How does Romanek illustrate his views on Mortality in “Never Let me Go? ” Mark Romanek’s film adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go depicts a world that we are unfamiliar with. With major scientific advancements relating to DNA, the artificial creation of organs is now possible through the cloning of humans. While normal society are able to use these people to their own benefit and increase their own lifespan, the donors are forced to suffer and have a very short-lived life.
Despite this, all humans have an inherent awareness of their death as we all eventually pass away. Themes relating to mortality are demonstrated in the film through us human’s persistence to live and delay fate, our inevitable acceptance of death, the importance of relationships and love and how impactful the death of a close person is. Throughout the film, characters aim to delay their inevitable death and make the largest impact they can to help others.
The idea of a “deferral” is a symbol of hope and how Kathy and Tommy share “verifiable” “true love” for each other. It is a possible pathway that the couple can take to delay their inevitable “completion” and allows them to spend a few more years with each other to further develop their relationship. As Tommy and Kathy visit to apply for a deferral, the fence and stone wall separating the couple from Madame is symbolic of both the rules and restrictions the clones must abide by and how the clones are isolated from the normal population.
Furthermore, the positioning of Madame on the green grass is representative of more lively characteristics while the clones are positioned on manmade cracked stone paving, reflecting their apparent origins of being “modelled on trash. ” While inside the house, a close up shot of a watch is indicative of not only the little time Kathy and Tommy have together, but also the vulnerability that both Madame and Miss Emily have as a result of their old age and weakness.
The image of the pills and glasses on the table reinforces the mortality that Madame and Miss Emily have as a result of their deteriorating senses and emphasises their reliance on medication and persistence to keep living. Their poor health conditions can be seen visually as Miss Emily enters the room in a wheelchair being pushed by her assistant George. Similarly, signs such as baggy eyes and wrinkles indicate aspects of seniority. In comparison to outside, the lighting in the room is much darker, possibly foreshadowing the negative events to come compared to previous feelings of hope and optimism.
The image of Hailsham is a motif that brings back positive memories throughout the film that reminds the characters of their youth and innocence. The feelings of nostalgia created by the painting may bring back meaning to the individual’s currently dull lives as they reminisce about positive memories. The scene ends with Madame showing sympathy towards Tommy and Kathy, stating that they are “poor creatures” and wishes she could “help” them. Combined, Romanek displays a powerful characteristic humans possess that even in the toughest of situations, gives them the willingness to live.
In the same scene, we are able to see the difference in Tommy and Kathy’s attitudes towards their acceptance of death. While Tommy speaks in a much more positive and enthusiastic tone in hopes of a deferral, Kathy takes a more passive stance and chooses to keep quiet. This is because Kathy is quite certain that the deferrals for “couples” are a myth while Tommy still shows signs of belief and optimism. An eye level angle of Kathy is shown as she looks briefly up while Madame is looking at Tommy’s artwork.
Her facial expression suggests a sense of uneasiness and concern for Tommy’s wellbeing once he finds out that they are just a rumour. The fact that Kathy is the first one to say “there are no deferrals”, represents her awareness and realistic thinking and impacts Tommy to a greater extent. In contrast, Tommy has a much more difficult time trying to control his emotions and accepting his fate. The effect of the truth clearly affects Tommy as shown through his “rage” after he leaves the car. He returns to his childhood ways and begins to let out screams fuelled by anger.
From Tommy’s rages, it is clear to the audience that he is frustrated as he is unable to spend more time with Kathy. The fact that the deferrals are a rumour reiterates how little time Tommy and Kathy have together and once again intensifies their mortality. However, the way in which an individual deals with their death is reflective of values and motivations. Similarly, Romanek conveys the importance of mortality through the theme of love, affection and relationships. It is clear throughout the film that Kathy and Tommy have a mutual concern for each other and worry about the other person’s wellbeing and behaviour.
Their love for one another is an important factor that gives meaning to their lives. During the token scene, Tommy is seen to be looking at Kathy while she walks around looking for items alone. When he sees her leave the room, he immediately follows her outside and shows a genuine care for her feelings. Subsequently, he further shows positive characteristics of generosity when he offers his tokens for Kathy to use and asks “what’s the matter? ” The bright lighting of Tommy standing in contrast to the dark area Kathy is sitting in are reflective of their respective happy and isolated moods.
However when Tommy sits down to give the gift he “found” for her, Kathy is depicted to be much happier and gives him a kiss on the cheek. The eye level angle present creates a much more personal feeling with the characters and allows us to see their facial expressions; further creating a sense of intimacy between the two. In a similar fashion, when Tommy and Kathy are back “together” again after being “(kept)” apart, they share similar experiences of “real love. ” The close up shot of Kathy’s face as she sits with Tommy on the bed emphasises her emotional state and facial expressions of joy.
Slow peaceful music starts to play as Kathy once again leans in to kiss Tommy. However in comparison to the token scene, the kissing is much longer and signifies a growth in the relationship between the couple and how confident they are with each other. Finally, the strength of their relationship is shown when Kathy hugs Tommy tightly after he has screamed in pain. The dark lighting present in the scene is reflective of the general mournful atmosphere and the positioning of the characters facing away from the car lights represents the positive past the couple had together.
Kathy being able to stop his “rage” is important and shows how much of an effect the relationship has on the two in terms of their comfort and support. In terms of Ruth, she is able to show valuable qualities of friendship during the beach scene when she decides admit to her mistakes and tries to make things “right. ” By accepting her “jealous” actions of not wanting to be “alone” she expresses a willingness to help others and do what is best. Although she speaks in a hesitant manner, it is clear that her actions are genuine and have good intentions behind them.
This can be seen through her humble tone when she “doesn’t expect” Kathy and Tommy to “forgive” her for the “worst thing” she has ever done. Through the actions of the three main characters, it is clear that the our peers and their actions have a great impact on us and our motivation to deal with unavoidable hardships. Additionally, the death of both Ruth and Tommy have a great effect on Kathy and bring her to the reality regarding her fate. The deaths of close friends are important events in the movie that depict the inherent vulnerability that humans have towards death.
As a carer, Kathy has experienced on numerous occasions the passing away of her patients. Yet, when Ruth and Tommy are deceased, Kathy is seen to still be deeply saddened. Specifically, Ruth’s heartbeat beeps increasingly quicker until it eventually stops. The scene has no verbal sounds to convey a serious atmosphere and put focus on Ruth’s death. Moreover, in the operation scene where Tommy completes, the colour pallet reflects the very mournful mood through its very dull and clinical shades. We take Kathy’s point of view when Tommy looks at her for the last time to express the feelings of loss and sorrow she is experiencing.
The two share one last smile as Tommy is being injected with anaesthetic, finalising the fate of the couple. During the scene, dismal music is played with the violin reflective of sounds of human despair. The image of Tommy with his eyes closed is shown for quite a while to increase the impact of his death and signify his last moments. With Kathy and Tommy’s death, Kathy is now alone and is once again reminded of her own mortality. The film ends with a scene of a sunset as Kathy reflects on her life and accomplishments.
While the sun is representative of the good she has done during her time, the day is coming to an end as her organ donation process begins. She starts to describe her feelings and states that she “imagines” this is the spot where “everything (she) has lost since her childhood has washed up. ” Kathy further describes her “fantasy” and how she dreams that Tommy would appear on the horizon and possibly “wave. ” This shows how she is still yearning for Tommy and misses him, but also keeps a realistic mindset despite the pain she is in.
A close up shot of her face presents visible tears and uneasy body movements with frequent blinking, emphasising the pain she is in and the efforts needed to prevent any further emotional damage. The previous pessimistic music now drops to allow the audience to focus onto Kathy’s thoughts. It is not about the destination, but rather the journey. And like all others, she is similar to normal society in which we all eventually “complete. ” To conclude, Mark Romanek uses the idea of mortality to create meaning and a sense of urgency that the characters experience throughout the film.
While the film’s main purpose is not about cloning but rather what it means to be human, the former idea puts greater focus on the idea of mortality through the delaying of one’s inevitable death. Furthermore, themes of love, loss, acceptance and relationships also help motivate and give significance to Kathy, Ruth and Tommy’s lives. As stated by Japanese author Yoshida Kenko, “If man were never to fade away … but lingered on forever in the world, how things would lose their power to move us. The most precious thing in life is its uncertainty. “