What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Opal Dream is a 2006 Australian film about the nature of faith and belief with some episodes of illness and violence. The main character becomes sick when her imaginary friends go missing and she thinks they're dead. Also the family is ostracized by the locals when they think the father has poached their land, and the father is beaten up. Older brother Ash has no problem standing up to bullies, and there is a scene where he discovers a rat has been tied to the handlebars by bullies. A few scenes take place in bars and there's a bit of rough language. The film does raise profound questions about what it means to believe in something, and and the transformative power of imagination.
What's the story?
Rex Williamson has moved his family to a small town in the Australian Outback in the hopes of striking it rich in an opal mine. Rex's daughter Kellyanne is a fervent believer in the existence of two imaginary friends -- Pobby and Dingan. The family always leaves two extra plates at the dinner table for them, and can't help but indulge their daughter's rich fantasy life. When Rex "takes" Pobby and Dingan to work and "forgets" to bring them back, Kellyanne insists on going back to the mines to find them. When they do, it is dark, and the owner of the mines confronts Rex and accuses him of being a "ratter," or a poacher of other men's mines. The Williamson family ends up being ostracized by almost everyone in the town. While Rex tries to prove his innocence, Kellyanne becomes sick as she believes that Pobby and Dingan have died. It is up to her skeptical brother Ash to find a way to believe his sister's stories and convince his family and town to believe, too.
Is it any good?
In much the way viewers might wonder why teenagers in horror films open the basement doors of haunted houses, it's easy to feel frustrated with the decisions the parents make in OPAL DREAM and the ridiculous lengths they go to indulge their 9-year-old daughter's belief in imaginary friends. They leave extra plates at the dinner table, they buckle the empty backseats of their vehicles, and they incur the wrath of the entire town after being caught at night trespassing on mine land. And yet, in spite of the stretching required to deliver the theme of the film, Opal Dream does deliver an inspiring, if uneven, story of faith beyond what most of us see.
The acting -- Christian Byers as the boy Ashmun in particular -- is well done, and the viewer gets a vivid glimpse of life in an Australian Outback mining town. While the ending requires a great leap of faith on the part of the viewer, it's obvious that the makers of Opal Dream have their heart in the right place, and have a deeper message they want to share with the world.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the violence in the movie. Did it seem appropriate to the story? Would the movie have been as powerful without it?
Was the family's response to Kellyanne's active imagination sensible and appropriate? Why or why not?
How does Ash change over the course of the movie? What do you think his character is meant to portray?