Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Scouting Book for Boys

Among the family fantasy films and classics watched over Christmas and New Year were two dark films which cannot be classed as entertainments,

The Scouting Book for Boys is a brilliant portrayal of what happens when a silly young girl with hopeless parents make friends and turns the head of a motherless young boy. They remain children who have been led to believe they have become free functioning adults. The setting is a residential caravan weekend retreat site on the Australian coast complete with a good size pool and indoor entertainment. I am not sure what the function the boy’s father had other than organiser and compare performer of the evening entertainments at which the boy is expected to do a song at the behest of his father. The girl’s parents ran the site store, argued and drink excessively. Both sets of parents are content to let their offspring run wild together and separately.

The girl persuades the boy to help her go into hiding using a cave which can only be reached via a pool at the entrance. The boy believes this will provide him the opportunity to commence a sexual relationship and is shattered where he finds the rumours to be true that the girl had a relationship with the site handyman. Worse follows when the girl claims to be pregnant and wants to stay away for twenty six weeks because then her father will not be able to insist she has an abortion. It later emerges when she uses her pants to stem the flow of blood from a minor injury that she has menstruated and is not pregnant although this aspect is not made clear in the film and is my supposition.

The young man and alleged father of her child is hounded by the camp site community, led by the girl’s mother who is arrested at one point for setting first to his caravan.

He rightly suspects the boy knows where the girl is hiding but the boy is able to fool him, the parents and the police that he knows nothing. That he steals food and clothing for girl also goes unnoticed. The police at first disregard the disappearance as just as another teenager off adventuring in the city but take the situation seriously when there are confirmed reports of the girl being seen intimate with the handyman. The boy is used to help get the on site to participate in detailed searches of the area for clues and at one point the father of the girl follows the boy until he is given the slip.

In fact the girl has got it into her head that by disappearing and claiming to be pregnant, (she may have believed she was pregnant by her experience with the handyman), that young man will have a serious relationship with her and not treat her as just another scalp among the teenage holidaymakers who use the caravan park. When the girl gets fed up with her incarceration and sends a note via her friend with the intention of getting the man friend to come to meet her, the boy burns the note and pretends their is no answer. What is worse he tears up the blood soaked pants and places a piece in the motorcycle of the handyman who is rearrested and an initial taken in for questioning.

When the absence of a response provokes the girl to decide to leave, the boy stays with her saying they will go back together in the morning but when she is asleep he smashes her ankle so she cannot leave on her own. He leaves her imprisoned, desperate and cold. When the following morning he returns full of remorse he finds that she had managed to get out of the cave but has died of exposure on the rocks. He takes her out to sea before letting the body sink. The picture ends and it is not clear if he drowns to be with her or returns to the ashore.

Both sets of families were content to leave the young people so they could get on with their own lives and the parent of the girl in particular were not aware of her vulnerability of they were just did not care enough. It can be argues as a story particular to the individual mix of people and circumstances or a more general warning of can happen if their abdication of parenting when children reach adolescence.

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