A growing collection of resources exists about dementia – extensive research articles, non-fiction, fiction, memoirs, poetry and film. Today’s post covers three films about dementia—or dementia-like symptoms—and the impact dementia has on the person with dementia, those caring for them and others in their life.
We have many more films available about dementia, so don’t hesitate to come in and see us if you’d like to find out more about our film collection. If you’re interested in any of these titles, you can request them here – remember, you have to be a member of Alzheimer’s Australia Vic.
Still mine, 2012
This is an intimate portrait of Frank, a man in his late eighties who finds himself caring for his wife of 61 years. Whilst no formal diagnosis is ever made, it is apparent that Irene has dementia and requires more support to continue to live at home. Facing the realities of their changing circumstances, Frank decides to build a dwelling more suitable than their long-term family home and is thrust into the contemporary world of permits, plans, building codes and the consequences of not complying with these restrictions.
Whilst taking on more tasks within the home, to compensate for Irene’s changing abilities, Frank also contends with the concerns of his seven children and their preference to have Irene, or possibly both Frank and Irene, getting professional care or support.
Still Mine is ultimately a story about a relationship between husband and wife and their staunch determination to remain together and care for one another. At times, this means other family members are excluded and disregarded. Yet no one doubts their devotion to one another. It is a story of empowerment and acceptance in very stressful circumstances. Whilst their situation bends them, it does not break them and Still Mine is, among other things, a story of triumph.
Firefly dreams, 2004
A Japanese sub-titled film about a troubled teenage girl who forges an unlikely friendship with an older person with dementia, becoming her carer and companion. This coming of age story focuses on 17 year old Naomi, sent to spend the summer holidays with her aunt in a small Japanese village whilst her parents navigate their separation and increasing inability to cope with Naomi’s behaviour. Initially, Naomi is stifled by the slower pace and physical demands of working with her aunt’s family in the hotel they run. She misses the city and is frustrated by her cousin, Yumi. Naomi goes to visit Mrs Koide, whom she knows from her childhood and at first is baffled by the inconsistencies in her elderly relative’s behaviour. As the summer passes, Naomi grows closer to Mrs Koide and her aunt’s family and whilst sometimes puzzled by Mrs Koide’s abrupt changes of topic, she tolerates and supports Mrs Koide’s needs.
Dementia is not overtly referred to in this film and the carer role that Naomi occupies is quite lightweight – focused on companionship rather than the day-to-day requirements of caring. The representation of dementia in this film focuses on some fairly mild forgetfulness, the person with dementia revisiting and re-enacting key past life experiences and some hospitalisation scenes.
In this film, the person with dementia dies and the implication is that her death was directly linked to dementia.
Finding Nemo, 2003
Although not immediately a dementia film, in Finding Nemo the character of Dory exhibits dementia-like symptoms which may help a younger child understand and experience dementia in a film.
This film, about a fish called Marlin looking for his lost son, Nemo, with the help of an often-forgetful and distracted fish called Dory. Dementia is not directly referred to in the film. Instead, Dory describes her condition as ‘short term memory loss that runs in the family’. As a result, the short term memory issues that can be experienced as part of dementia are front-and-centre, however the film also showcases Dory as a real person, not a caricature and someone who is able to contribute in her own right to her friend’s predicament. It shows some of the challenges of dementia, where some very routine procedural activities remain perfectly intact whilst other newer memories are tenuous and readily forgotten.
Finding Nemo also deals with Dory’s own anxiety, frustration and sometimes sadness with the limitations of her short term memory issues.
Overall, for younger children this could be a good film as a discussion piece to expand on a child’s experience of dementia and perhaps through Dory, their feelings about dementia.
Note: these reviews are the opinion of an individual, and do not represent the views of Alzheimer’s Australia, or Alzheimer’s Australia VIC.