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Film Analysis: Never Let Me Go

Updated on February 20, 2015


“Never Let Me Go” is an emotional love and horror story adapted from a novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro. The main characters are Ruth, Tommy and Kathy who seem to live in a different world than normal people. Most of their childhood is spent at Hailsham, an apparently idyllic boarding school that that uses English as the common language for teaching. The fate of these characters is that they are only living to save the next generation. In particular, parts of their body will be used to save some other lives. In this movie, all the characters are made to accept themselves as donors and nothing more. This movie can be described as moving, disturbing and haunting. This paper begins by interpretation the film’s title, and focusing on one of the critical themes, empathy.

A focus on the film’s title

The title “Never Let Me Go” is itself a reminiscent phrase, which typically brings out different relations and feelings among people. Further, this title when compared with the contents in this movie could be connected and interpreted in various perspectives (Baine 2010, 2). The movie is infused with the type of longing for what cannot be achieved, which is implicit in the title. In one perspective, the title depicts love that runs through all odds in speaking through its name while on a deeper sense, providing thoughts on the value of being humans. In addition, it also shows the value of having love, and some of the strange things done by human beings as a way of preserving life at all costs.

The title “Never Let Me Go” is used to portray the value of life and the significance of relationships among human beings. Many a times, human beings find it hard to let go of some things, which they treasure, or love, yet they have to do so. In this film, Ruth, Tommy and Kathy are forced to let each other go. Consequently, the characters undergo intense emotional suffering because of their fate. In this light, it is a fact that as human beings, having to let go is not only a natural process, but also inevitable in real life situations. In essence, letting go is an inevitable fact among human beings and reflects the value placed on relationships and human attachments (Wood 2005 2).


In this film, the characters, Kathy, Tommy and Ruth were essentially created in the laboratory just to be donors. Therefore, they are not considered as free human beings. These children do not have people they can call parents. Their main existence is for them to grow livers, kidneys, hearts and other important items for “human beings” and eventually die when these essential commodities are taken away from their bodies. Any viewer in this movie could develop a sense of empathy for these “poor creatures”. This revelation is made clear to the audience early in the film, but not to the children. They live in an environment that values their donations and not as human beings. Interestingly, the society in which they live in accepts this phenomenon, as they have known this for long.

In this movie, the characters are shown while young and when they are in their 20s. They grow up in a progressive boarding school, which is also an experimental laboratory that regards test tube babies as real human beings. Though they may be thought to be so, the larger society does not certainly think of them in this way. This is because if one intends to obtain someone’s liver or heart, he or she should objectify the source (Kass et al 1998 1).

Despite the fact that the book in which the film was adapted did not disclose the uniqueness of the three donors, until almost halfway in the movie, this is highlighted right in the movie’s beginning. The audiences are informed that the students are simply prepared to save other people’s lives. Further, the school headmistress, Miss Emily ensures that they are unaware of what will befall them or the kind of live they are expected to live. Consequently, these children grow up believing on wrong information, superstitions, and rumors concerning their lives. However, a new teacher Miss Lucy is honest enough to tell the children the truth, a factor that gets her dismissed from the school. Nonetheless, her short stance at this school leaves a huge impact on the impact of these characters.

The film deviates from its book adaptation in the sense that it does not have patience in withholding some information. Rather, it tells things as they occur. The author seems to have understood the attention span of his audience. Moreover, more hints are offered along the way when compared with the novel. However, the author still takes some time to disclose some of the important aspects.

The author has decided to open the movie with a card, which informs the audience that where they are is a different world. This world which they belonged in past is no longer the same. Consequently, the presentation of this movie has conveyed a strong feeling, which makes the audience to perceive some peculiar matter going on although we are not informed on what this matter is.


In conclusion, the movie is both good and masterfully created. What is being depicted in this movie is not spelled out, but implied. The audience is merely required to observe the events as they transpire from one phase to another. The events are subject to different interpretations. Since the characters are not fully human, they do not know what they are portraying about themselves. It is also certain that they do not know about their existence. However, the audience is able to know since they are humans. Such a stature may not be extended to those we value considering that our comfort is supported by them. It is certainly not very easy to get this movie out of the mind once seen it. The melancholy associated with the impermanence of love and life suffuses in this move. Consequently, this makes it not only hypnotic, but also a haunting experience.


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