I have no idea how this movie, Oranges and Sunshine, which was released in 2011, ended up in my Netflix queue. I certainly didn’t understand what I would be watching when I popped it into my DVD player. At the start, the English accents of a self-help group were so thick, I tried to turn on subtitles only to discover they weren’t available on this disk. I came close to turning it off. I’m glad I didn’t.
Here’s the Netflix blurb:
This drama, based on a true story, follows British social worker Margaret Humphreys as she uncovers a shocking deportation scandal involving thousands of children and risks her personal life to draw global attention to the grave injustice.
I am always a bit skeptical about the “history” or “true story” that can come out of Hollywood. But the film ends with words of apology on behalf of the governments of Great Britain and Australia, so I’m guessing more is true here than not. And this BBC article seems to confirm it.
Other than a man who threatened the character played by Emily Watson and used a particularly offensive word when he did so, I wasn’t aware of other foul language. (I may have missed it due to the accents.) Considering the abuse endured by these children, that’s surprising.
This isn’t a light, entertaining movie. Margaret Humphreys’ is diagnosed with PTSD from listening to the stories of these deported children decades later. I felt like I got a little PTSD from watching the movie. It was especially heartbreaking to learn what the Catholic Christian Brothers who ran Bindoon, an isolated institution north of Perth, did to the boys sent there. Even if only a fraction of what the movie showed was factual, it was still too much.
I recommend Oranges and Sunshine, but not for the faint of heart.