Text Type: Film
Composer: Lee Daniels
Publisher: Lionsgate, United States
How does this text relate to the concept of belonging?
Precious is the story of an illiterate, obese, 16-year old girl living in Harlem in 1987 who is raped by her father leading to 2 pregnancies, she is also physically and mentally abused by her mother throughout this time. Because of her pregnancy she is kicked out of her school and sent to an ‘alternative school’ this is where her life starts to turn around, although faced with another barrier being HIV Positive, she continues to go to school and look after her two children and get out of all the troubles.
The concept of belonging is displayed negatively in this film, as all throughout the text Precious has no sense of belonging to anyone or anything. But with the help of her teacher at the alternative school she forms bonds with her class mates as they all have some problems in their lives as well. This gives Precious comfort and a sense of belonging as she shares similar experiences with others. Precious doesn’t have a sense of belonging until the end of the film where she also forms a sense of belonging with her children representing a positive sense of belonging and satisfying the viewer.
Precious has no experiences of belonging to family as she has grown up with an abusive mother and sexual abuse from her father since she was 7. She is also embarrassed of the way she looks which is a barrier between her having a sense of belonging with herself, due to the emotional abuse she has encountered growing up and being overweight. Although many of these abusive factors would have led to the weight issue she has now, her mother still abuses her and blames Precious for all mistakes and even blames her for the sexual abuse and rape she has been through. After going to the alternative school and getting support from her teacher Miss Blue, Precious becomes happier and more confident with herself removing the barriers stopping her from belonging.
Attitudes towards belonging are modified over time when Precious becomes more confident after having friends and people who care about her encouraging her to go well in life and ignoring and dismissing her mother’s negative comments and abuse towards her allowing her to belong to herself. Her family and her intelligence level is a barrier that she has to conquer before being able to belong.
How does this text relate to your set text?
Precious directed by Lee Daniels and The Crucible written by Arthur Miller link closely in the form of belonging or in this case not belonging due to a number of factors. One of these factors is the role of Abigail creating difficulty in John Proctor’s life due to lies causing isolation is mirrored although altered in a different way represented as Precious’ mother Mary who lies to isolate Precious and make her life harder. Both of these female influences are the instigators of the not belonging of the other characters in these texts in which they feel powerful and have no remorse over. A contrasting element of these texts is in the sequence in which belonging is occurred in the texts. In Precious, Precious does not belong at the start of the film because of this woman and has had no sense of belonging her whole life due to the abuse she has received that has made her feel worthless. Once starting at her new school Precious feels some sense of belonging within herself, her new friendship group and with her teacher, after going to Child Services and having a meeting with her mother who she had been avoiding after a domestic fight Precious feels comfort within her family which is her two children and her teacher and friends. Although in The Crucible the sequence is the other way around. Proctor and his family belong to Salem until John has an affair with Abigail which lead to the start of isolation for Proctor when he realizes what he had done is a sin and isolates himself from the community also due to the hate of Reverend Parris. Abigail then starts the lies about Proctor’s wife which creates more chaos in Proctor’s life and is isolated completely from the community.
Another similarity in these texts is the final sense of belonging which is belonging to your inner self. John Proctor’s sense of belonging to himself is shown in the quote ‘Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life!’ this shows that if he lies he will no longer belong to himself which would ruin his life. Precious’ sense of belonging is not shown as strongly but by the things she says the viewers can understand that she is beginning to feel a sense of belonging within herself. ‘I’m gonna break through or somebody gonna break through to me.’
Identify five techniques used by the composer to present the concept of belonging. 1. The use of cutting-scenes. Whenever Precious is most upset, the scene cuts to one of her fantasies, of her walking down the red carpet as a beautiful star that everyone adores, or on the set of a music video with a cute boy from school. Precious escapes to her dreams where she feels she belongs when life seems too cruel to be real.
2. Pull back shot: A tracking shot or zoom that moves back from the subject to reveal the context of the scene. This is used when there is a blonde, thin figured girl in the mirror, there is then a pull-back shot revealing that it is Precious looking into the mirror and that image is what she admires to be. This represents that Precious is not comfortable with herself and therefore does not belong to herself.
3. Voice-Over- When Precious is doing the test for the alternative school we can see her struggling to answer the questions and how she feels is negative about herself, the use of voice over reinforces this and shows this by saying “There’s always something wrong with these tests. These tests paint a picture of me with no brain. These tests paint a picture of me and my mother, my whole family as less than dumb. Just ugly black grease, need to be wiped away, find a job for.” This shows that she has no sense of belonging when it comes to school and feels that if she is dumb she is nothing in the world, the use of a metaphor is also used in this sentence when referring to them as ‘black grease’ which is ironical because she doesn’t understand that she is using such intelligent techniques.
4. Slang- The use of slang in this text is not deliberate by Precious but is just the way she speaks as she struggles putting sentences together, this is used to give the effect that she is illiterate and therefore as shown in other quotes in the film that she feels she is worthless and just ‘black grease’ showing she as no sense of belonging because of her intelligence level. “You know to this day, I never even knew who you was, not even after all them things you did. Maybe I was too stupid. Maybe I just didn’t want to. You ain’t gonna see me no more.”
5. Emotive Language – “Sometimes I wish I was dead. I’ll be okay, I guess, ’cause I’m lookin’ up. Lookin’ for something to fall, [chuckles to herself]
a desk, a couch, tv… my mom, maybe.”
The use of emotive language gives the viewer a negative view on the situation and we feel sympathy for Precious which is then contrasted with humour when she laughs to herself and refers to her mother falling. This shows sense of belonging is not within her family.