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ENG 213 Assignment 1 Film Studies Analysis of New Boy by Steph Green & Roddy Doyle
Analysis of New Boy by Steph Green & Roddy Doyle
Film Studies (National University of Ireland Galway)
The film that I have analysed is ‘New Boy’, written and directed by Steph Green and based on
the short story by Roddy Doyle. The first topic that I have chosen to discuss is narrative. The
film is told from the perspective of Joseph, a nine-year-old African refugee who is starting afresh
in an Irish primary school.
This objectivity is of great significance in the film as he is the only African boy in the class. Shown
from his perspective, the film demonstrates the differences between education in his home country
and Ireland through alternating between shots of Joseph’s previous school (in which his father was
his teacher) and his new school in Ireland. The varying relationships between teacher and student
in both countries are presented to us through Joseph’s poignant point of view.
While the short story originally is told through the internal monologue of the protagonist, the
director chose not to use a voice-over. Seeing what Joseph is thinking while beginning in his new
school allows the viewer to feel sympathy for him - to the other students, he is merely another
new pupil, despite him having suffered greatly unbeknownst to them. His narrative allows us to
gain insight into the type of hardship he had experienced.
Secondly, there are plenty of examples of distinctly cultural aspects present in the film. In less
than twelve minutes, the film gives us an accurate and comedic insight into the daily tribulations of
a stereotypical Irish primary school. The character of the teacher in the film brilliantly represents
the typical Irish primary school teacher. We see that there is an air of strangeness about the new
boy in the class; there is not necessarily any harsh racism shown, but yet a difference is
acknowledged by the other children.
One child comments that he should sit beside the only other black student in the class. A prime
example of a distinctly cultural aspect of the film is when one of the bolder students, Christian,
taunts Joseph by calling him ‘Live Aid’ and saying ‘do they know it’s Christmas’. In popular
culture, and for a child that age, the charity song ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ is synonymous
with starving black children as shown in the music video. Perhaps our culture has groomed
Christian to believe that all black children are poverty-stricken.
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