24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Emily Watson

Real-life inspiration for 'Oranges and Sunshine'

October 19, 2011 | 11:29 am

Oranges and Sunshine
The new British drama “Oranges and Sunshine," starring Oscar nominee Emily Watson (“Breaking the Waves,” “Hilary and Jackie”), Hugo Weaving (“The Matrix”) and David Wenham (“300,” “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy) and directed by Jim Loach, tells the true story of social worker Margaret Humphreys, who in 1986 began to investigate a major scandal involving the British and Australian governments.

From the end of the World War II to the early 1970s, the British government forcibly relocated British children who had been placed in a children’s home and sent them to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the former Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

The parents in England when they returned to the children’s home to retrieve their youngsters were told that they had been adopted by a good family in England. The children who were sent to Australia had been told that their mother or father had died and they were going to live the good life, filled with oranges and sunshine and a perfect family in Australia.

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'Oranges and Sunshine,' starring Emily Watson: Exclusive clip

October 12, 2011 | 11:30 am

Oscar-nominee Emily Watson ("Breaking the Waves," "Hilary and Jackie") stars in the new historical drama "Oranges and Sunshine," which opens Oct. 21, about an English social worker who uncovers a major scandal: the forced migration of some 150,000 children -- wards of the state -- from England to Australia in the 1940s, '50s and '60s.

Watson plays Margaret Humphreys, who started to unravel the mystery in the 1980s after hearing about the migrations from adults who were sent Down Under with the promise that life would be all oranges and sunshine. Many of the children were told that their parents had died, though in many cases that was untrue. Instead of getting a new families, they were put into orphanages and endured conditions akin to indentured servitude. Humphreys founded the Child Migrants Trust to help those relocated children find their identities and families, and wrote a book, "Empty Cradles."

During the production of the film in late 2009, then-Australian Prime Minster Kevin Rudd issued a formal apology to the "Home Children"; Britain's prime minister followed suit in February 2010.

Below is an exclusive clip from the film, which was directed by Jim Loach and also stars Hugo Weaving and David Wenham ("300"):


Hugo Weaving, no stranger to playing multiple roles, will do it again 

David Wenham is an L.A.-loving Aussie 

--Susan King

Photo: Emily Watson. Credit: Newspix/Getty Images


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