Directed by Ken Loach, Ladybird Ladybird is a chef-d’oeuvre based on a true story from England. The protagonist in this film is Maggie, an emotionally wretched woman; a mother of four children but living with none. Raised under the watch of an abusive father, Maggie goes on to beget four children with four different men; ironically, she is married to none.
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The Social Services have taken away Maggie’s four children and placed them in foster families. From flashbacks, the audience learns sees how one night Maggie locks her children up in the house and goes out for a singing expedition. Unfortunately, fire breaks out in the house leaving Shaun, one of her children badly burnt.
Afterwards, she shows up late in the night to see Shaun in his foster family and even though she is denied access, she forces her way in. Moreover, she attempts to change his bandages leaving him hurt. This happens before she meets Jorge in a club and they become good friends. In the hands of Jorge, things happen fast and within no time, they get two baby girls only to be taken away by the Social Services for Maggie is “at risk” according to the government agencies (Loach 1994).
Maggie stands for a distraught mother and a wife, seeking love in the wrong places. According to Bjorklund and Bee (2008), “…one of the most significant elements in age stratification is…patterns of experiences associated with marriage and family life…the family life cycle” (p. 8).
True to this observation, Maggie is lost in the family life cycle as she tries to secure custody for her children and a husband to love and cherish her, together with her many children. Unfortunately, she finds none of these longings because she is seemingly uncontrollable almost bordering insanity. However, there are forces that have pushed Maggie into becoming her own sorriest foe. As a child, her father sexually and physically abuses her.
The Social Services have thrown her into emotional breakdown by taking her children away. Tooley (1978) asserts, “To part a woman from her child is violent and traumatic resulting to psychological complications” (p. 21). Maggie fights these psychological forces and this explains why she behaves the way she behaves. Nevertheless, even in her worst situation, Maggie brings out the role of women in society during her time.
The outstanding role of women in this movie is childbearing and motherhood. Maggie performs excellently in the role of childbearing. Before she meets Jorge, she already has four children with different fathers of different races. The film is set in England at a time when women’s role were solely bearing and bringing up children.
Unfortunately, Maggie fails terribly as a mother. Mothers are known to be caring, but Maggie cares less as depicted in the scene where she leaves her children in a locked room at night. Moreover, she did not follow the norm of sticking to one man. There is nothing modesty in having five men in one’s life; regrettably, Maggie fails to understand this unwritten norm.
If I were Maggie, I would give my children the care they deserve and engage a serious man into long-term relationship leading to marriage. I would amicably solve my psychological problems by engaging the people around me positively instead of discharging my problems to them. My decision is not different from Maggie’s because of time and place. The role of women as mothers will never change with time and place; women have been, they are and will be mothers.
Bjorklund, B., & Bee, H. (2008). The Journey of Adulthood (6th Ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall Publishers.
Loach, K. (Dir.). (1994). Ladybird Ladybird. UK: Channel Four Films.
Tooley, K. (1978). The Remembrance of Things Past: On the Collection and Recollection of Ingredients Useful in the Treatment of Disorders Resulting from Unhappiness, Rootlessness, and the Fear of Things to Come. American Journal Of Orthopsychiatry, 48(1), 16-30.