The Story of Rosy Dock.
Written and Directed by Jeannie Baker.
Film Australia, 1995. 10 minutes, VHS, $99.00.
Distributed by T.H.A. Media Distributors Ltd.
Phone: 1 (800) 661-4919 /
Fax: 1 (604) 688-8349.
All grades / All ages.
Review by Diane Fitzgerald.
People say it's the oldest river in the world. . . . Surrounded by desert
and the worn-down bones of pre-historic mountains. For thousands of
years, almost nothing here changed.
Then, over a hundred years ago, newcomers from Europe settled by the
river. . . .
This short and gently paced film tells the story of the plant Rosy Dock;
how it came to Australia, and how it came to cover vast spaces. Written
and designed by internationally acclaimed children's book author Jeannie
Baker, The Story of Rosy Dock is told with very little
dialogue, and only spare narration; mostly, it is the collage-based
animation that tells the tale.
From the first shot, of a window opening to reveal the river, the
images draw the viewer into a strikingly visualized world. One of the
newcomers to Australia is a woman who brings seeds for the red Rosy Dock plant --
"Oh, I do hope these seeds grow," she says, "it'll make such a
difference to this place." Real foreshadowing; though for a while we stay
with the woman and the flood that comes upon her home (the film, though
short and simple finds times for little touches like having her cat stuck on the
roof amidst the vast stretch of water).
But in time the animation and narration unfold more about the dry
land and its cycle of floods. Then we see how the water spreads the Rosy
Dock seeds throughout the desert, until they begin to blossom and cover
the landscape in a profusion of red (with a rabbit, another
ill-considered import to Australia, hopping through it).
The story is simple enough, and the visual changes so striking, that
even students in early grades will be able to understand how Rosy Dock
made a startling alteration to Australia's ecology. And although the
film doesn't preach -- in fact, the transformation itself seems almost
miraculous from one perspective -- it's a simple step to realize the
moral: that even little changes in the environment can lead to profound
disturbances, and require great caution. The animation is also sophisticated
enough that the visuals alone will hold the interest of older viewers.
Available with Teachers' Discussion Notes.
Diane Fitzgerald is an elementary-school teacher in Saskatoon.
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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association.
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