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This Way of Life Essay

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With reference to at least one text you have studied, discuss how the ideas conveyed by a text reflect underlying values and/or attitudes.

‘This way of life’, directed by Thomas and Barbara Burstyn, follows the lives of Peter and Colleen and their 6 children as they struggle to stay true to their way of living in a corrupt consumer capitalist world around them. The documentaries over the 4 years, demonstrates the many ideas about the world around us and represent the families underlying values of respect, tradition, and the innocence of their children.

In the documentary, the idea that we should respect those that know more in life is represented through an underlying value of the characters respect for nature, family members and knowledge. The father of the children, Peter is resourceful and adventurous man that deconstructs the stereotypes of masculinity and how a man is represented to his family. Peter does not follow the traditional stereotypes of a male, as he shows his emotions on camera, teaches his children to not fight and is a gentle soul. Peter also shows respect for the environment, his wife and his father who constantly puts him down. His respect is shown within the documentary when he chooses to not retaliate against his father, “I’d rather not fight”. Although Peter has grown up in an abusive family he shows respect towards his father and treats his children with love, respecting their knowledge and physical abilities. The connection that Peter has with his children is shown by how he talks to them as if they are smart and trusts them to ride horses and do formwork as if they are older and mature. This is shown where he says, “my kids don’t owe me anything if anything I owe them”. The children are influenced by the responsibilities given to them by their father as there are proud of him. The children pride is shown in the exposition of the film, the oldest is sitting in the grass and whispers “that’s my dad”. The positive pride in his voice represents the relationship between the children and their father, this constructs the family’s way of life to be natural and harmonious. This value presents the idea of respect for knowledge and people, portrays the family positively, living in a fair and altruistic lifestyle.

The ideas of living a traditional, simplistic wat of life is more beneficial to a family relationship is shown repeatedly throughout the film. The idea represents an underlying value of tradition, which is valued by the children through how they live, what they wear and what they believe. The family’s simplistic way of living off the land and surviving from the food caught by the men in the family, the mother taking care of the children is depicted several times in the documentary. The boys all have long hair, which is shown as like the hair of generations of the family, the father, and the older generations of the family, shown through the photographs, depicts all the boys as similar. This represents the family’s attachment to traditions. Also, the family’s way of farming and not giving in to the consumer world around them is not a new way of life, however a more archaic and older representation of farming. Tradition is also shown in the film when peter revisited his old house, sees the names of the children scratched into the walls of the house, going back generations. In the house there is also evidence of the relationship which they must past family member through photographs on the walls of their current house, the dust accumulating on them, represents the long time they have been there. The positive family behaviours allow the audience to identify that valuing traditions and living a traditional lifestyle allows happy and positive lifestyle.

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