Film resource: Finding Dory

Disney's latest film is beautiful and hilarious - but not for 93,000 children in the UK.

The larger than life great white shark only inches away from a class of 5 year olds in my lounge was the best birthday party ever. At least according to a couple of my eldest son's friends at the time. Thanks to a borrowed video projector, a floor to ceiling screen and the latest blockbuster out - Finding Nemo - we recreated the cinema experience for children, many of whom had never been to the cinema before.

12 years later, having just about finished hoovering popcorn out of the carpet, all my children are looking forward to the long awaited sequel, Finding Dory. But since I have had a few emails warning me that this may not be suitable for children who are adopted, I thought I had better check this out before it is released in the UK. So a couple of weeks ago I travelled land and sea and managed to Find Dory for myself on a business trip to Dubai.

I was thrilled to see the old characters back again - maybe not as close as they were in my lounge, but you can't beat the immersive experience of 4K and 3D and Dolby 7.1. The animation has moved on leaps and bounds and the dialogue remained witty and engaging for children and adults alike. Again, the producers have worked hard to engage well with disability through Dory's "short term memory loss". In fact this is a strong point of the movie. It recognises the real challenges facing those with learning difficulties, as well as the issues this raises for their caregivers. But it also goes out of its way to show how someone who thinks differently can be an incredible gift to those around them, helping them see and appreciate the world differently.

However, while working so hard to handle disability well, I was disappointed and concerned that the film-makers have unwittingly produced some potentially disturbing messaging for the UK's nearly 100,000 looked after children - that is, children who are, or were, in the care system. Many looked after children have large gaps in their memories from their early lives, and already wrongly blame themselves for their separation from their birth parents. The plot of Finding Dory reinforces this message as ultimately it is shown that Dory was to blame for losing her parents.

Secondly, many looked after children struggle to understand not only the reasons why they were removed from birth parents, but also have unrealistic hopes and ideas about a fairy tale Disney ending where everyone lives happily ever after together. Again, Finding Dory could give the false impression that birth parents are actively seeking their children, are capable of looking after their children, and can be easily reintegrated into the lives of their children once they have been reunited. For me, this is the difficulty with taking my adopted daughter to see Finding Dory. She knows that when she turns 18 she can make the decision for herself whether to bring her birth parents back into our lives, and although I hope we can do that together for the "happily ever after" ending, I expect it will be much more complicated. In the meantime, I don't want her to live with wrong expectations and false hopes.

So I remain concerned not just for my daughter, not just for the 93,468 children currently in care of loal authorities in the UK, but for the thousands of children adopted in the UK and indeed the children from the 2 million single-parent families in the UK who may all be disturbed by the suggestion that separation from one or more of their birth parents could be their fault, or by the offer of false hope of reconciliation as in Dory's case. I would urge parents and carers to think carefully before taking their children to see this film. I would urge children and youth leaders to double check with parents before organising trips to see this at the cinema. And I would urge pastors to tread carefully when engaging with the themes of this film in sermons.

However, the film may be difficult to avoid. And if your children do pick up on the unhelpful messaging, then perhaps you could use the following questions to begin to work through it:

  • What part of the film did you most enjoy? Which character was your favorite? How did the film make you feel?
  • Did you think the story was real to life or was it more fairytale? How do fairytales and similar stories often differ from real life? What are other examples of films you’ve seen that unrealistic? What parts of Finding Dory do you think were very fairy tale like?
  • In what ways is your / our family’s story very different from Dory’s? How do you feel about? How can we best support each other?

A similar article was originally published by Christian Today on 28/07/2016.

Author:
Miriam and Krish Kandiah


Tags:
Articles


Share:


You might also be interested in

When your church doesn't 'get' adoption and fostering

Articles

When your church doesn't 'get' adoption and fostering

What happens when your church doesn't seem to understand either your heart for fostering or adoption, or the challenges faced by your family?

Read more
What the church needs to know about shame

Articles

What the church needs to know about shame

Why do adopted/fostered children often feel a heightened sense of shame?

Read more
A Reflection for World Social Work Day

Articles

A Reflection for World Social Work Day

Taking a moment to recognise all that social workers do in their role working with looked after children.

Read more
How does God parent us therapeutically?

Articles

How does God parent us therapeutically?

Exploring themes of therapeutic parenting in the Bible

Read more

Connect locally

I would like to find out what is
going on in my area

Connect Locally

Keep up-to-date

I would like to stay up-to-date with Home for Good's news and how
I can give, pray and get involved to help vulnerable children.

Home for Good will never pass on your details to third parties for marketing purposes and you can unsubscribe from our communications at anytime by emailing [email protected].

reCAPTCHA helps prevent automated form spam.