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Its the journey that matters, not the destination

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So year 11, Is a physical journey merely a distance traveled? Or is there a greater meaning behind every step that is taken? As well as extending yourself physically, what about the mental, emotional and intellectual transformation on the journey? Remember those long roadtrips when you would drive your parents nuts by asking “Are we there yet?” Often, we are so obsessed with the destination that we neglect to see the process that takes us there, the thrills of the unpredictable journey and the things we learn from both the positive and negative challenges we face.

Similarly, the poet, Peter Skrzynecki documents the importance of the physical journey as a learning experience in his poem, “crossing the red sea”. His recounts shows us how even though we may focus on the destination, it is not until later in life, we may reflect back on how important the actual journey was.

The title alludes biblically to Moses leading the Jews to the new Promised Land, just as the migrants were on a voyage to the hope of a bright new future. However the journey was an uncertain one that they had been forced into because of the destruction of WWII.

Through the first stanza, the reader can gather that a return trip is unlikely, as the travelers “Watch a sunset they would never see again.” A strong sense of misery and poverty is further highlighted by the description of these displaced people being “barefooted”. It is also a physical reminder of the extended duration of their journey. As the physical journey progresses, their past sufferings are eased by the calmness of the sea. Though personification it accepts the immigrants “outflung denunciations” and provides an opportunity for emotional and mental healing. The process of the journey shows the changing attitudes, figuratively conveyed through the image of “patches and shreds of dialogue”. Their quoted speeches of memories, such as “I remember a field of red poppies” vividly portray their memories of beauty, yet also of death. Other travelers touched by the “sea’s breath” figuratively rise from the dead as the biblical allusion to Lazarus highlights the healing process along the journey.

The metaphorical images of “voices left their caves” and the personified “silence fell from shackles” convey how the migrants are free now to express themselves. The positive effects of the healing journey are masked by tone of the poem; Skrzynecki highlights how many still feel regret and fear. The challenge on the process of the journey is the realization that as “daybreak took away the magic of dreams”, they can no longer hide but learn to face their fears. The use of imagery as the boat sails towards the “blood trimmed horizon” suggests the hardships and apprehension that the travelers will endure before they reach the “promised land”.

I think this significantly shows the importance of the process of the journey, the journey brings the migrants together, it gives them time and space to heal emotionally, letting go of walled up griefs” and reflect in order to cope with challenges ahead.

Without this process of transformation, their destination would have been meaningless to them just like in the movie, “Not without my daughter” directed by Brian Gilbert. The true story of Betty’s epic escape from female oppression in Iran conveys a physical journey to freedom similar to “Crossing the Red Sea”. The close up shots of the American flag symbolizes freedom, the sole focus of her journey which contrasts with the immigrants who have no clear focus or certainty on the destination. The clash of cultures between America and Iran is expressed by the high angle shot of Betty in a pink dress surrounded by women in black chadors, it shows her dislocation like the Skrzynecki feels on the ship, which is further emphasized by the lack of subtitles. Close up on a slaughtered lamb in the beginning of her physical journey acts as a foreshadow of her imposed journey as a hostage with her daughter Mahtob at the hands of her Iranian husband, Moody.

The extreme long shots of the crowded cityscape, acts as a contrast to the panning of the river back in America which emphasizes the alienation and uncertainty Betty feels on her journey. Her emotional dialogue as she exclaims “god damn you all” effectively represents her inner turmoil on the journey a contrast to the nightmares the immigrants face as they are already free. A strong sense of misery is further highlighted by the foreboding music, symbolizing her emotional and intellectual changes on the process of the journey and the unpredictable and uncertain nature of the physical journey. Amblent Light, during Betty’s escape gives a sense of danger, but also hope and apprehension for the future.

The journey strengthens her love for Mahtob, by their isolation and abuse she receives which is conveyed through the screaming and dizzying camera shots. The immigrants journey are healing whereas her physical journey past checkpoints to Turkey is perilous, the filmmaker uses sharp focuses on Betty’s face to reveal her fear, and emotional changes on the journey. As Betty reflects back on her story, she realizes that it is the experiences and relationships she forms that enable her to reach her destination. The hardships and challenges on the process, makes her appreciate freedom in America like the immigrants feel about their new promised land, the importance of the destination is heightened by the process of learning on the journey.

“Not all journeys have an ending” is the byline from the book cover, “The Ivory Trail” which emphasizes the process of learning on the physical journey is the most important and there is no final destination which contrasts with the other two texts. The vector lines demands our eyes to journey from the boy in the foreground to the pyramids in the middle ground to the Islamic buildings in the background which acts as a metaphor for religious and personal growth on the journey. The shadows of red and purple portrays the sense of danger but the orange portrays excitement, a new beginning and the warm glow of resolution in the process of the physical journey.

Like Betty’s journey, the clash of cultures is evident from the images of the boy contrasted to the sphinx, whereas the dawn or sunset light represents the concept of time and space which is similar to the waiting in “Crossing the Red Sea”. The boy’s gaze portrays the mystery, exploration and inner emotional transformations on the journey. The bold font on the word Trail emphasizes that it is the actual journey that is important, the mixed media and use of special effects with the photography emphasizes the combinations of adventures and the importance of the process of the journey. The unlocking of the past and the bittersweet journey of cultural and self discovery has allowed the protagonist to fully appreciate the destination.

We are all on educational journeys striving towards the HSC but instead of asking “are we there yet?” look around and enjoy the process of the journey, the wonderful relationships you’ve formed, the parties along the way and also the heartbreak and personal challenges that you would be faced. Without the process of the journey, the destination would not be so triumphant and so remarkable when you reach it. So yr 11, Good Luck with your journeys ahead!

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