The Film “Nell”

The Film “Nell”

            The film, “Nell” which was released in 1994 is a classic example of isolation and solitude and the effects loneliness can have on somebody’s life. The girl, Nell, grew up in a cottage, which was in a forest. Her mother died and that was the beginning of change in her life. Nell had never met anybody else. She did not know of another world that existed apart from her own. This film has many lessons to be learnt. A child cannot really develop while in isolation. While he or she may experience physical growth, development is a hard thing to come by. Nell knew no other language, apart from what her and her twin sister had developed. Unfortunately, her sister died and Nell had no one else to communicate.

Although isolation can be negative in a child’s life, it does bring out things in people that would never seem possible in the real world. Nell and her sister developed a system of communication based on how their mother used to speak. They added to what they could hear and they came up with twin speech. For all this time, the family lived alone without all the modern necessities. Isolation early in life can have detrimental effects. Nell looked wild and indeed, she was wild. Before their death, Nell’s mother and sister acted as her agents of socialization. For a long time, her family was what she knew. Her mother and sister were therefore the only ones that she had to socialize.

Nell’s mother was constantly sick and her communication was not good. There was no emotional connection for a long time after her sister’s death. Nell and her twin sister were very close and they loved each other so much. They would do everything together. After her sister’s death, Nell shut herself to the world. Even to the world she lived in. family is very important because it forms the basis of what a person will be in future. The family influences a child in a way that he or she finds hard to change after he has become an adult. She was afraid to love again until the arrival of Doctor Jerry Lovell. After her mothers death Nell was discovered by Doctor Jerry.

He was a good doctor who genuinely wanted to help Nell. He was passionate about what he did and he did it with love. This made it easier for Nell to open up. A student, Dr Paula Olsen these two people became her contact with humanity. They represented the state and another agent of socialization that she had. The doctors guided Nell in the new world that she was experiencing and although it started roughly at first, they had a positive impact on her life. They become her friends and her representation of parents. Through them, she leans to laugh and love again in the end they become her family. In a way, they moved from being the state to being her peers. They were the only ones who understood her and were closest friends. She helped bring them together and through her, the doctors discovered that they had feelings for each other (Nell 2004).

Through Dr Jerry, Nell knew about the opposite sex and about love developing between two people. The male figure was something that Nell was missing in her life. She did not know about it and she did not know about love between the opposite sexes. Although the movie does not depict this clearly, this is something that a person can point out from the movie, if he takes the time to watch keenly. Other friends were also missing. After her sister’s death when they were six years old, Nell never formed friends until the arrival of Paula and Jerry. Of course she never ha the chance to attend school so she never had the chance to make friends there (Nell 2004).

The media is another socialization agent that comes into Nell’s life. Although it does not come in the expected way, it still influences her life in a big way. The press intrudes into her life and draws attention to the quiet life of the uncivilized girl. They totally turn her life and she cannot stay where she is used to anymore. She has to live her home for the first time and go into a new and strange environment. Jerry knew that taking Nell to an institution would not help her much and that is why he went to the court to seek help. Dr Paula on the other hand believed that having Nell in a laboratory where she was under scrutiny would do her good. It is Dr Paula’s view that made Jerry go to the courts seeking for help (Nell 2004). The judge ordered than Nell should be observed for three months in her natural environment because that is what she was accustomed.

This was a good decision because after spending time observing her Dr Paula realized that there was nothing wrong with Nell. She was the way she was because that was the only life she knew and she lived it according to how she knew (Nell 2004). Nell however, had to be absorbed in the civilized world. She therefore had to be rehabilitated. Because she was being accustomed to the two doctors, it was easy for the rehabilitation program to begin. She trusted the two doctors and they were eventually able to help her. The film ends as a classic Hollywood story with a happily ever after theme.

Nell’s life is a lesson. That although Doctors think they know what the best thing is for a patient, they must take time to learn that person. The major thing that helped in rehabilitating Nell was the trust that she had in the two doctors who had now become her friends. She trusted them because they made it easier for her to trust them. They did not think of her as sick. They first learnt that she had her own life even though no one else understood it (Nell 2004). They took the time to learn about her life and were not judgmental. A doctor should not think they know how a person works right from the beginning. They might assume that the person is mentally unstable but this may not actually be the case. People live differently and it is not wise to assume that everybody is similar. The definition of normal to one person may be the opposite of another.






Foster, J., P. P. (Producer), & Apted, M., D. D. (Director). (1994). Nell [Motion picture]. USA: Studio

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