Sunday, 22 January 2012

Never Let Me go

I missed the publicity and the critical evaluations of the 2010 British film Never Left me Go. The film raises important issues and is the story of a group of children attending from the age of 11 an isolated special school which young people they later encounter saying they wish they had been given the opportunity to also attend. The one thing all the children have in common is that they do not have relatives who visit. They are warned against leaving the school unless supervised something about which they are obedient. In fact obedience is something which appears all the children have in common although in other respects they appear normal each having friends within the school, some rivalries and picking on someone who appears different, in this instance Tommy who is not good at sport but also at art which appears to be highly regarded with the best paintings, sculpture and other art selected to appear in the “gallery.” He is befriended by two girls who are also friends.

While the children are still at school a teacher played by Charlotte Rampling breaks the news that they are special because they are clones whose originals have paid for them to have a better life than other clones brought up in secret establishments, the different between battery hens and free range. However as with hens who all end up in the cooking pot, once they are adults they will be used for body parts, up to four organs after which their use will be completed and are terminated unless this has happened beforehand because of complications with the transplanting of body parts. The teacher disappears.

When they become adults they able to live in cottages in the area close to the school and are free go out and about and enjoy life until their time.

One of the girls played by Keira Knightly has a relationship with the now young man Tommy (Andrew Garfield) until the harvesting commences and she dies on the operating table because of complications. She has been supported by the other girl Kathy (Carey Mulligan) who becomes a carer, someone who travels the country visiting and supporting other clones when ready for transplant and the post operative experience, if it is explained why she has been selected and has not as yet been asked to donate transplant, I missed this.

Tommy and Kathy meet up and fall in love and he persuades her to go and see Madame, the former school head at her home after learning that the school has closed. The purpose of the visit is to show Madame the art work that Tommy has created since being an adult and the hope that this will enable him to have deferment similar to the position of Kathy. It is Kathy who grasps the there is no such thing as deferment and the purpose of the artwork was to establish if the clones had “souls” A twist in the tale is that the sacked teacher shares the home of the Madam. We see Kathy helping Tommy to cope with another transplant before completion.

The film as with the book by Kazuo Ishiguro in 2005 was highly regarded with the film receiving several nominations in the lesser institutions and groups with Carey Mulligan winning best actress by UK Independent film awards and Andrew Garfield also winning in others competitions. The film well acted and thought provoking and may well sit in the memory.

The film is based on an alternative reality claiming that as early as 1952 the ability to clone humans meant that we all had a life expectancy of 100 years. It not stated but presumed that some clones were used for medical experiments to eradicate diseases such as the cancers. The story is told by Kathy when she and Tommy are 28 and she looks back. Although between 1950 and 1980 the film has a feel of the 1950’s throughout, apart from the medical centres.

Those brought up at the residential school are fortunate because their originals have paid the extra to enable them to have a good childhood and free adulthood until the body parts are needed. The film does not explain why the clones accept their fate without revolt. The school is closed when originals are unwilling to pay the additional costs and society in general does not want to see the clones out and about thus raising the issue that we tend not to want know about the price paid for our way of life... The lives led by those who make the cheap food and clothing or who die because the food, water and medicines which they need and are available are not provided.

The subject of transplants is not knew and I remember the fuss which Oh Lucky Man created when it was released some 50 years ago and the hero attends a clinic when there are experiments in transplanting with one young man finding his head and brain attached to a pig. I still have the Long Play record of the excellent music composed and played by local Jarrow man Alan Price of the Animals with Eric Burden.

It could also be argued that the film is more about the choices we make as a society collectively and the implications as much as the issue of cloning. All those years ago some 50 now I decided to go to prison for six months when I was given an alternative as a statement that I could not accept the potential use of weapons of mass destruction.

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