Swimming Upstream - "The Fingleton Family was dysfunctional" Discuss

Essay by hojugooseHigh School, 10th gradeA-, September 2007

download word file, 3 pages 3.0

In ‘Swimming Upstream’ directed by Russell Mulcahy the Fingleton family is portrayed as a dysfunctional family however this instills into the viewer the importance of family and values. Even though there are many chasms in the relationships of the Fingleton family there are still some relationships which keep each individual going. This love between some of the family members ensures the survival of each member of the family through the difficult period of each child growing up and maturing with a sadistic, abusive father.

The Fingleton family is very dynamic with each member having individual relationships with other members of the family. These relationships act as a rapport for Tony and Dora. Tony is unloved by his father to the extent that Harold wishes Tony “Didn’t exist”. This has a profound effect on Tony, however he can survive through the support of other family members. Tony has very special relationships with John and Dora and these help him to survive even with an abusive father.

To Tony “John was the best” brother he could have and this relationship was strengthened by the many hours they shared in the pool. Dora is very protective of Tony due to the hardships he suffered from Harold and Harold Jnr. Tony wasn’t loved by Harold however Dora made up with this by giving him more attention than the other children. “My Darling boy,” this illustrated Dora’s special relationship with Tony and how when life was tough for Tony she was always there helping him through the hard times. The Fingleton family as a whole were dysfunctional however in their own personal relationships they helped each other through their own personal hardships and this helped each member survive.

There are many types of love shown in the Fingleton family however there is also hate and jealousy present. Harold and Dora share an unpredictable relationship that goes from one extreme to another every day. Harold has massive mood swings which result in his insulting Dora, “You cow,” and these incidents tear their marriage apart however there are also moments of love. On Dora’s and Harold’s anniversary when they are dancing and Harold is singing is a shining example of their love for each other even though most of the time it is hidden. Another form of love in the family is Dora’s love for Tony. After being rejected by his father Tony needs somebody to support him and that person is Dora. Dora shows Tony special attention to make up for what he loses through his father, “I Love you,” this love however creates additional tension in the family with Harold Jnr being jealous of the time Dora and Harold spend with Tony. Harold Jnr had to “Take care of myself” and this jealousy is illustrated through Harold Jnr bullying Tony as a child. The Fingleton family is riddled with jealousy and hate and this causes dysfunction however moments of love and friendship shine brightly through the hate and jealousy.

To survive in the dysfunctional Fingleton family was hard, however each member had their own unique support structures to help then get through the tough times. Dora is a very strong individual and the source of some of this strength is from Billy. Billy is Dora’s support and source of strength and it is Billy who eventually stands up to Harold, saying it would give her “the greatest pleasure” the call the police to arrest Harold. Billy helps Dora and eventually helps her out of the wreck of a marriage she was in. In turn Dora is Tony’s support to help him survive in the family. It was hard for Tony to survive as he was the one child overlooked. Harold Jnr has power over the other children they had to do what he wanted “or else”. John was Harold’s favourite, “He’s the one,” and this left Tony by himself. However Tony persevered and created relationships to act as barriers between him and Harold and to act as a rapport when times were tough. His relationship as a child was strong and John would never do anything “to hurt you (Tony)”. This friendship sustained him through his childhood and growing up and is symbolized with their handshake. Dora is also a rapport for Tony, and this is illustrated when Tony is in his place of solace Dora comes to comfort him and give him strength, Tony then returns this favour later in the film. Surviving in the dysfunctional Fingleton family was hard however individual relationships helped them survive.

In “Swimming Upstream” the Fingleton family is portrayed as dysfunctional however when scrutinized each family member gives each other support and love to help them survive and grow up in the touch of climate of Brisbane in the 1950’s.