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In 1920s and 1930s New Zealand, Janet Frame grows up in a poor family with lots of brothers and sisters. Already at an early age she is different from the other kids. She gets an education as a teacher but since she is considered abnormal she stays at a mental institution for eight years. Success comes when she starts to write novels. Written by
Another fine example of extraordinary talent from NZ!
I think this film is another fine example of Kiwi talent! Some incredibly original literature, film, television, and acting talent originates from the island nation of New Zealand. "An Angel At My Table" is one of the great examples. The first time I saw this film (or tele-film) I was left emotionally affected by Janet Frame's life. I could not believe how easy it was for someone to be treated the way she was just because she was shy, socially awkward and had curly, red hair. How times have changed! Nowadays if you are not a freak ... you are a freak! It is scary to think how easy it was, apparently at that time, for a person to be thrown into a madhouse. Not to mention the deplorable conditions of those types of institutions.
Initially, I felt sorry for Ms. Frame but then I realized she probably has had a fuller life than I have had (or probably ever will). She has accomplished so much and given pleasure to the many who have read her stories and poetry. Watching this film has prompted me to begin looking for her writings since I have been so intrigued by her story. I was glad to see that by the end of the movie she had begun to become comfortable with herself and open her shell. Biographical information on Ms. Frame seems sketchy. I have not found much information about her life after the period where the film ended.
Thank you Jane Campion for another wonderful character driven film (albeit a real-life character this time)! The only real criticism I have of the film is the portrayal of Frame's time in the institution. While the film did not make it pretty nor gloss over the situation in general, sources I have read indicate Janet was dangerously close to receiving an operation that seems similar to a lobotomy. The operation, if performed, would have left Janet an emotionless, child-like creature and was not adequately depicted. But for the grace of her publication, she was saved.
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