The nature of Survival – By Danielle Molloy.
“Survival can be summed up in three words – never give up. That’s the heart of it really. Just keep trying.” – Bear Grylls
Challenges and unexpected circumstances appear in every person’s life, whether it’s a challenge to survive a physical, emotional, mental or social challenge. However it’s not the problem that determines where you lead, it’s how you react to it, and adapt when you don’t necessarily want to. The texts “Rabbit Proof Fence” directed by Philip Noyce, “Touching the Void” written by Joe Simpson, “The Vow” directed by Michael Sucsy and “The perks of being a Wallflower” written by Stephen Chbosky are examples of ones flexibility and determination to fight and survive change. These texts are a prime example of characters pulling through each of their own circumstances, and surviving in their individual ways.
“Rabbit proof fence” Directed by Philip Noyce
In the film “Rabbit proof fence” directed by Philip Noyce, Molly displays to us that in order to survive, you need to have knowledge of the weather.
This aspect of survival was presented many times in many different situations throughout the film. It is firstly shown when Molly was taking the bucket out from the girl’s room at Moore River settlement. A close-up camera shot of Molly shows her looking up into the sky after hearing thunder, and you see her quickly develop plan for her and her family’s escape. She then collects her little sister and cousin, and they run away as the storm starts settling in over camp. Her aim being the rain covering their tracks to mislead Moodoo, and eliminate any possibility of them being followed. Gracie and Daisy however are unsure of leaving Moore River, thinking they will be caught by Moodoo. However Molly reassures them saying “He not gonna get us. We just keep walking and the rain will cover our tracks.” After their escape and the abolishment of the girls tracks, we see the girls in a three shot sitting under a sheltered spot, and Molly smiling with relief, if not even laughing. She is in relief mode because the heavy rain has covered their tracks, and she knows they are going home. This tells us that Molly’s quick thinking was correct. If Molly and the girls hadn’t left Moore River when it was raining, Moodoo would have been able to see the girls tracks and follow them to their recapture. Following with the girls punishment with a night in boob. Overall showing us that because of molly’s understanding of the weather, she and the girls could escape and return home.
Another aspect of survival shown throughout the film is Molly’s way of camouflaging she and the girls tracks, and avoiding leaving tracks. A close-up camera shot shows Molly putting on a pair of socks she had stolen off a washing line from Mavis’s farm, and carries the girls over the rocks to avoid tracks being left. Molly knew that if she hadn’t worn the socks and the girls walked freely, they would have left obvious foot marks leading Moodoo and the policeman straight to them. A point of view shot shows Moodoo following their tracks, and a low angle shot shows his slight smile looking in the direction they are heading, knowing what they have done. Moodoo then indicates to the constable that he does not see any tracks, nor does he know where Molly, Daisy and Gracie have gone. As Moodoo is waiting with Constable Riggs on the border of the desert, he says: “she pretty clever that girl. She wants to go home.” Moodoo says this because he almost feels proud of her skill and dedication to getting home, and her fearless acts not letting Mr. Neville scare her away from taking opportunities to survive. Molly’s understanding of keeping low and hiding their tracks save her a number of times throughout the film; because if she didn’t know how to cover the tracks the girls would be caught and taken back to Moore River settlement.
“Touching the Void” Written by Joe Simpson
In the film “Touching the Void” written by Joe Simpson, Simon displays to us that sometimes in order to survival, you have to put yourself first and assure your safety.
This aspect of survival can be displayed a few times throughout the film. However one major part was when Simon cut Joe’s rope when he was hanging over a crevasse, about to pull Simon off with him. After Joe had smashed his right kneecap, simon had been belaying him down. However he belayed Joe over an edge, causing Simon to hold him as he hanged helplessly. Simon notices that Joe had fallen, and after a while Joe becomes too heavy and Simon starts slipping from the mountain. He supports this by saying “i kept stamping my feet. I was trying to halt the collapse of the seat but it wasn’t working. I felt the shivers of fear… I can’t hold it, Can’t stop it. God i had to do something.” “I was shaking with cold”. These quotes from Simon tell us he was struggling, and wanted to hold on and save Joe. Simon was giving it all he had, but knew he was going to fall as well. Simon then remembers his knife, and almost without any hesitation given, he secures his position on the mountain and cuts the rope connecting him to Joe. “The knife. The thought came out of nowhere. Of course, be quick, come on get it.” Immediately he feels joe’s weight fall as he just sits there. He then feels tormented; he didn’t care much that he had saved himself, but that he didn’t know where Joe was or if he was alive. So he starts telling himself that he killed Joe. “I had killed him… i felt numb, freezing cold and shocked into a numb silence.” He thinks about it, and he deep down knows it was the right decision to make, especially under so much pressure. Simon shows us that no matter how much you want to save someone, sometimes you need to reassess and put yourself first because it’s better to save one than none.
A second aspect of survival shown in the film is Joe’s “voice” or inner conscience, edging him on to keep going. When simon cuts the rope connecting him to Joe, Joe falls through the shell of a crevasse. Once he finds himself ready, he lowers himself with the cut rope into the darkness, and eventually finds a small opening to break through to the surface. During his journey back towards the camp coming off the mountain Siula Grande, he has a voice inside his head, constantly telling him to keep going. This voice that had seemingly takes over, persuades Joe into making goals for himself. This including time and distance goals, to try and make his journey seem more achievable. This is proved to us when he says “it was like there were two minds within me arguing the toss. The voice was clean and sharp and commanding”. This proving that without the voice, maybe he wouldn’t have felt so determined into getting to the hut in time. This aspect of survival shows us that in order to survive, you need to want it and need to truly believe you can. If joe hadn’t had this second mind urging him on, he may not have made it back to Simon and Richard in time. However because he did have the voice, he made it back home.
This can also be related towards “Rabbit Proof Fence” with Joe and Molly. Both characters were either being pushed or doing the pushing. Joe had a voice urging him on towards conquering Siula Grande, not letting his self doubt take over. If “the voice” hadn’t been present in Joe’s Mind, he may have never made it home. Whereas Molly was the voice for Daisy and Gracie. Telling them that they were going to make it, and that they were going to outsmart everyone and see their mothers again. If Molly hadn’t been a leading voice, the girls would have never escaped or made it home. However because Molly was positively reinforcing the girls, they too like Joe made it home. That is how i believe the texts share a similarity, they both have a voice leading them or are a leading voice.
“The Vow” directed by Michael Sucsy
In the film “The Vow” directed by Michael Sucsy the idea of survival is not only presented physically, but mentally and emotionally. This shows us that in order to survive this way, you need to be surrounded with people who want to help and support you.
This is shown throughout the film by Leo, Paige’s husband after their car accident, and her brain injury. He didn’t let Paige’s accident affect the way he felt for her, or bring him down. He would show her around, reintroduce her to her art studio, show her old photographs, as well as put up with her mood and confusion swings. This is shown when Paige first came home from the hospital, and was shown her art studio by Leo; where she would spend all her time all day, everyday. Proven at a medium camera shot, where leo says to paige “you’d rather use that time to work in your studio.” This quote shows to us that Leo wants to take Paige to her known happy place. Perhaps to help her feel at home or more comfortable in her, as well as his state of mind. They then have a look around and scout things out, and leo shows paige all her work. Including her big tall, dull green coloured tree sculpture, which was her favourite piece before her brain injury. She shows to be extremely interested in it, walking towards it, looking it over, and putting her hands on it silently. Which tells us that her sculpturing and artwork was something she didn’t remember. Except that she was fascinated with, and she realised how good she is. Leo then interrupts her looking at it by saying “You’re an artist. Sculptor. A really good one.” and Paige looks back at him, with a brief smile. He would also deal with her emotional stages, hurtful words and everything she would lash out about. This being because he wanted her to get better, and learn to love him again, but mostly to remember. This aspect of survival was really important to Paige, because she had Leo who wanted the best for her, and for her to get a taste on who she is, she got an idea of her life. Instead she could have gone live with her parents and they turn into someone they wanted her to be. Leo was a major role in her life, always wanting to help and support her, as well as making things fun, and taking her out doing traditions and showing her who she is again.
A second aspect of survival shown in the film is that in order to survive, you need to take a chance. That you need to be wanting to get through your problems, instead of letting them change everything. This is shown when Paige first has her accident and is resting in hospital. Her parents come into the picture and want to take her home, and have her live and recover at their helping hand. Opposed to Paige going home and back living with Leo; Her husband who she has lived with for the last three years, and trying to resume her life. However due to the car accident, she can’t remember the last 3 years she spent with Leo, but remembers her life with her family before. So she’s in a tough situation because she wants to go home to where she remembers, and would be most comfortable; at the same time she wants to try and go back to her current lifestyle, and live with her husband. She makes her decision in the hospital, and decides she wants to go and live with Leo. Putting aside what her parents wanted her to do, she decides for herself what she wants to try out first. Because if it didn’t work out, she would move to her parents house and try there. Her decision making is shown in her hospital room whilst she is discussing the situation with Leo, her parents and her nurse. At a close up camera shot we hear her say “I guess I could give it a try” and Leo’s face lights up, because she’s given their forgotten relationship a change. This is an important part of the film and in all the character’s life. Paige’s decision displayed survival because she took a chance on Leo, who she didn’t even remember but played the biggest role in her life. If Paige hadn’t thought of Leo and just went straight to live with her parents, she wouldn’t have learnt so much about herself. She also would have missed some major details to who she was, and who she turned into after meeting Leo. Whereas if she went and lived with her parents, she would have turned back into the person she tried so hard not to be.
This aspect can also be compared back to “Rabbit proof fence”, with Molly and the girls getting captured and taken to Moore River Settlement. Molly knew she had to get the girls out of there, and wasn’t going to let their capture and where they were brought change everything. If Molly hadn’t taken a chance, and didn’t get her family out, they would have fallen into a whole other society, twisting who they are. It is related back to Paige and Leo in a way, because she took a chance on Leo, she got a brief idea of who she had become in those three years after leaving her family. However, if she ignored the chance of seeing who she was, she would’ve become a whole other person. By becoming someone else, Molly and Paige would be living a life not meant for them, and never know the life they could’ve had.
“The perks of being a wallflower” written by Stephen Chbosky
In the text “the perks of being a wallflower” written by Stephen Chbosky the idea of survival is considered physical, social, emotional and mental survival. This shows us that in order to survive, you need to put yourself out of your comfort zone and take a chance on yourself and people.
This is firstly presented when Charlie decides to go out one night, to watch a football game at the school grounds. Even at that game, he had gone so far out of his comfort zone that even he didn’t know why he was there. He takes a seat at a front bench awkwardly, where he then hears Patrick who is a senior in his shop class cheering loudly at the back. Charlie remembers Patrick being friendly and approachable. He then takes a chance and goes and sits on the bench across from him at the end of it, only about a meter away from Patrick. Charlie then hesitantly started talking to him across the stairs separating them, in a very shaky tone and sitting unsettled. Patrick talks to him in a friendly tone, saying lots and being chatty. As well as acts very bubbly, and warm towards Charlie. Patrick invites him to sit with him, in which he accepts his invite without a second of hesitation. One thing leads to another and he meets Sam, who is Patrick’s step sister and best friend. Who Charlie instantly has a crush on. After the game, Sam and Patrick insist Charlie to get in their car, and come to a house party with them. Proved when Charlie thinks to himself “They both told me to have a seat, and they both seemed to mean it, so i took a seat.”. He then finds himself hanging out, and having a good time with them, socialising. it came hard to him and he was very uneasy, but they helped him by constantly talking to him, and really involving him. This shows that sometimes in order to survive socially, mentally, and emotionally, you need to just not overthink and go for it. If Charlie hadn’t approached Patrick, he wouldn’t have made two friends that night. He too wouldn’t have taken a chance on them, or himself just once.
This can be compared back to Molly, Gracie and Daisy in Rabbit Proof Fence. Molly would go outside of her comfort zone to get the girls food, as well as taking a chance on people. An example being Mavis, who was an aboriginal half caste girl who was a Maiden on a farm. She offered the girls some food and a place to sleep for the night in her room, and reassured them that they could trust her. Molly took a risk that night staying with a girl she didn’t know, hiding from a white family who would be aware of Moore River looking for them, but trusted Mavis enough to go through with it and keep them safe. This relating back to Charlie approaching Patrick and Sam, he trusted them enough to look after him, and steer him in the right direction at his first party. So because both Charlie and Molly took a risk, it ended benefiting them both of them. For Charlie, he got to make his first friends. For Molly and the Girls, they got to make a friend, and be kept safe.
A second aspect of survival shown in the text was that in order to survive, sometimes you need to open up and express how you feel. Through anyway of communication you want, rather than keeping it all trapped up inside. This is displayed throughout the text when Charlie would write down about his day, or about anything he was feeling in his personal journal. Sometimes he would just recap memories, or talk absolute nonsense about his life. That would make someone else think “what the hell is this kid thinking”. This being proven when Charlie says “I write to my friend michael.” When he writes in his journal however, he would write it like he was writing to his friend Michael, who was his only friend growing up. He writes these to him to update Michael on his life, and let him know how he’s going. However they never actually reach his mailbox, because Michael committed suicide a year ago. So he writes them for himself, like an imaginary friend through literacy. Charlie does love and does really well in english, so his way of communication and letting his sentences and feelings leave his shell, is through the way he is most comfortable doing. This can be brought back to compare with Anne Frank, her way of not going crazy to be writing down every single thought she had, and expressing herself through her journal. If Charlie hadn’t written it all down, he wouldn’t have had anyone to share his thoughts with. Which would have resulted in him being lonely, and having trapped all his thoughts up inside.
This can also be compared with Joe Simpson from Touching the Void. Joe was all alone and was really struggling with making it back to the base of the mountain, and had so many thoughts wash over him on his journey back. So Joe would talk to himself, to save himself having these thoughts and words niggling at him in his head. If Joe hadn’t talked to himself, like a second company for himself, then he could’ve driven himself mad, and felt undetermined and lonely. Like Charlie did, he wasn’t too phased he didn’t have a friend to talk to. He had his Journal, which was enough communication he needed to keep his mind stabilised. If Charlie hadn’t written down his thoughts, he would’ve felt even more lonely and unmotivated, a lot like Joe if he didn’t talk to himself.
“Struggles are required in order to survive in life, because in order to stand up, you need to know what falling down is like.” – anonymous
Humans survival doesn’t depend on the circumstance or the severity of it, but how they react, adjust, and plan to make change. As well as having the optimism to survive, with having motivation and knowledge of the situation you’re in. My texts “Rabbit Proof Fence” directed by Philip Noyce, “Touching The Void” written by Joe Simpson, “The vow” directed by Michael Sucsy and “Perks of being a Wallflower” written by Stephen Chbosky all have different characters dealing with very different situations, but if they each didn’t strive to survive, they wouldn’t have. These texts are very real, and moving circumstances. That prove to us as viewers/readers that everyone goes through grief at their own pace in their own way, however long the situation lasts.