Be My Brother (2009) Short Film, Film Analysis - English Film Analysis - Essay

1250 words - 5 pages

How does Clay-Smith shatter notions of ‘disability’ and the labels that society imposes
on the marginalised using the multimodal form of a short film, ​Be My Brother ?
Those who are marginalised often are perceived as unwanted by those in their surroundings.
People with disabilities will repeatedly victims of being ostracized and outcasted by mainstream
society who is unwilling to expose themselves to the new experiences making it incapable for
them to change and challenge the rest of society. ‘Be my Brother’ (2009), directed by
Genevieve Clay-Smith forces the audience to experience the suffering that the disabled face
due to societal stigma and during this process shows us how ignorance leads to certain
perceptions however when these perceptions are broken, mainstream society is allowing
themselves to develop relationships with these people. Clay-Smith Be my Brother has done this
by composing a multimodal short film using the aspects of space, gesture, camera angle etc to
convey the ideas of a closed off society, how these people are the same as us and how the
developing relationships between these two groups of people are highly beneficial for both
The representation of disabled individuals within mainstream society has certain prejudices
placed upon them that often cannot be lifted. With these prejudices comes the distances that
are placed between us, making it difficult to understand the and overcome the barriers. Be my
Brother explores these social constrictions by firstly pointing out the main character, Richard
who has down syndrome. This is shown through a slow close up shot to his face. The slowness
of this shot is supposed to make the audience aware of the daunting reality of what notions
being disabled in our society brings about. While being introduced to Richard, Clay-Smith
clearly and cleverly uses space within this scene. The audience sees Richard below the rest of
where the scene will take place, this use of space within the film is a symbol for the barriers that
inhabit a person with disabilities and how they are seen to have less worth that the rest of the
community. It also shows the amount of effort required for people with disabilities such as down
syndrome to reach similar standards of respect and societal acceptance, therefore Richard must
take big leaps and risk when it comes to finding his place in mainstream society. This is seen
when Richard introduces himself to Amanda, the female character. Richard is very forward in
his behaviour in an non threatening way. However the way that Amanda reacts reflects that of
an ignorant person. She is sat at the very edge of the bus stop and sat in a standoffish manner,
embodying the distance placed upon by societal misconceptions and the fact that she does not
want to develop a relationship with this person. The use of gesture here makes the audience
aware of the hostile behaviour and perspective on this issue presented as Amanda is portraying
that she is clearly uncomfortable by the fact that Richard has down syndrome. The
communications made through Clay-Smith are significant in making the audience aware of the
barriers that are assumed by people when meeting someone for the first time.
The differences presented by people usually prohibit relationships to be developed, however
when these differences are broken down we see the misconceptions being broken down as
well. Clay-Smith once again used gesture to convey the messages presented. In the beginning
of this scene Amanda’s demeanor is seen to be reluctant and unresponsive to the things that
richard is saying while Richard is still trying to make an effort to knock down the walls being built
by Amanda. Amanda is embodying the reluctant and unresponsive nature of society while
Richard is embodying the disabled community in these types of situations. A close up shot of an
engagement ring on Amanda finger shows the audience and Richard that both of them are the
same in the sense of wanting to a loving relationship, this provokes further conversation
between the two as Amanda starts to realise that Richard is just as human as she is. Richard
sees an opportunity to delve further into a friendship with her and starts to recite scenes from
pop-culture. The camera is at a mid shot enabling us to see their facial expressions change with
the conversation. The audience also see the fact that they fact are both now in the same shot,
instead their faces being shown in different frames and in different times. This conveys the
notions of change happening throughout this story but as well as the transformation to societal
acceptance. The presentation and representation by Clay-Smith is incredibly important for the
disabled community and showing real human interaction on screen enables to audience to
understand the human experience for these people.
The experiences shared amongst these people are part of human nature as it is a desire of
human to have a connections. When people are exposed to lasting relationships it can affect the
wellbeing of those who are marginalised and those who are naive. The use of gestural
behaviours used by Clay-Smith while directing is once again is an incredibly useful device when
trying to convey certain motives. During ‘Be my Brother’, while Amanda and Richard are
engaging in conversation we can also see an internal transformation happen within the other
male character sitting on the ​edge ​of the other bench. The camera pans over to a mid to long
shot of this boy who is seen to be peering over to the conversation between seeming jealous of
the interaction taking place, however when Richard approached the young male he become
very rigid in his behaviour and tone once again. This represents a percent of society who want
to have interactions with the marginalised however may not have the courage or may be afraid
of the repercussions that the rest of society might place upon them. The relationship formed
between Richard and Amanda has completely turned since the very beginning of their meeting
especially when Amanda encourages Richard to speak to his brother, Damien about how he
doesn’t like to be outcasted by his brother. The off the shoulder shot during this scene mimics a
sense of closeness between the two. Richard is a symbol for those who are marginalised while
Amanda represents the those aware of the social barriers between these two groups. The
growth of their relationship is a symbol of how those who are open can also develop these
relationships. The bus that Richard is supposed to catch arrives and he and the other boy get
on the bus, Richard pays for his bus ticket and when Richard sits down the boy sits down next
to him. There is a long tracking shot that focus on these boys to let the audience know that the
focus is now on developing the relationship between Richard and this man. The last shot is a
mid shot that captures both the boys and Amanda in the frame. Richard engages in an embrace
with this boy to signify that the boy is actually his brother Damien and is willing to further their
relationship. As the bus drives away leaving Amanda at the bus stop but camera still focused on
the brother show how Amanda was the catalyst for the development in the friendship between
the formerly embarrassed brother. Clay-Smith has communicated the ideas of being outcasted
by society and changed it into how this being ostracized can lead to friendship when exposed to
the right relationships.

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