Yun Yi's Stuff

“Small Island” – An Underrated Masterpiece

Posted on: November 23, 2014

I had not cried for long time, but recently I cried twice, both due to Ruth Wilson’s powerful performances, one of which was in Small Island (another one is in Saving Mr Banks).

Small Island is a BBC TV movie that consists of two episodes. It tells a story about lives of 4 people during and after WWII: Hortense and Gilbert, two young black people who immigrant to England from Jamaica; Queenie and Bernard, two young English people who married each other but soon they marriage is disturbed by the war. Hortense and Gilbert have grand dream about their new life in England, but after they come to the country, they not only have to endure poverty, but also racial discrimination. Queenie and Bernard also have to endure hardships brought by the war, but their different dreams and life attitudes seem to tear them apart even further.

Through out the film, these 4 seemingly unrelated persons’ lives intertwined with each other, by their dreams, love, the war, and ultimately, by the fate. There are untold secrets in both young women’s hearts, buried deep inside until the end of film, also as we can imagine, to the end of their lives as well.

Ruth Wilson plays Queenie, who is a country girl comes to London for a better life. Unlike most white people back then who discriminate “colored” people, Queenie has a loving heart for all. Her passion and braveness bring her hope and joy, also painful consequence, which makes her to pay great price at the end.

Of course, while all of this happenings tangle together, what this movie really is about, is humans’ “chronicle” problem – racial prejudice. Through the characters’ fate, we can clearly see how foolish our “hatred” is, how superficial our cultural or racial “pride” is, and our how much damage our prejudice can do to our own race.

Wilson’s performance in this movie again overwhelms me. Despite the fact that Queenie is only one of 4 main characters in the story, Wilson made her role a crucial figure that holds all characters together, so that her life seems to weigh the most through the entire movie.

I found this movie by following Ruth Wilson’s filmography. Glad I did, because this is kind of movies that I don’t see often anymore. I also believe, though an unforgettable story itself, it is Wilson’s performance that makes this movie especially outstanding.



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