Setting the Scene
Scared, alone, and in unfamiliar territory, a young child makes her way through a busy intersection asking for help. Though ignored by most, she is quickly given up on by anyone who stops once they realize it is not an easy fix. She needs a home; she needs a family; she needs a new life. She is a refugee.
She is also an adorable animated blue fish named Dory, but what is advertised as a sequel to the beloved children’s movie of a similar name, also serves as a glimpse into the life of a child refugee.
A Flashback to Finding Nemo
We met Dory, everyone’s favorite forgetful fish, 10 years ago swimming around the ocean asking anyone and everyone for help. Nothing outlandish, just a point in the right direction or a clue about her former life. Dory spends her days approaching strangers with heartbreaking optimism, never letting a less-than-friendly encounter get her down.
Her short-term memory loss keeps her motivated and so she just keeps swimming. Dory knows she speaks another language, a sign she comes from a different place, and left alone she knows in her heart, she has a family out there.
Back to the Future
Fast-forward a decade, she has a new life and family but longs for the one she left behind. With the help of her friends, Marlin and Nemo, she finds her way back – nothing short of a miracle – to her parents who, for years, have waited in the murky depths of the ocean in the hope she would one day return.
An Oceanic Refugee Tale
If you were to rewrite the Finding Dory summary, omitting the fact the main characters are a bunch of tropical ocean creatures, it mirrors many of the hard facts of the refugee crisis facing millions today.
Imagine waking every day not knowing where or how to get home. Imagine for years asking for help and constantly hearing “no.” Imagine being the parents of a young child lost in a foreign land, waiting for years in squalor just in the hopes that one day they might return. The saving grace in Finding Dory is, ironically, her short-term memory loss.
A Grown-Up Message
The harsh reality of refugees today is they are constantly reminded that they are not welcome, that they will not be helped, that they should go back home. Just like Dory, home is a concept that is hard to remember. It is a blurry memory of what it once was, and the idea of going back seems impossible. They, like Dory, sneak into places with high fences and security checkpoints and hope against all odds to meet some compassionate people to help them find their way.
Finding Dory is for children, but under the bright colors of Pixar’s ocean world lies the black and white truth about how important it is to help others. Dory teaches kids to never give up, but it should remind us adults how incredibly lucky we are to have a place to call home.
Can you think of other ways Finding Dory highlights the life of a refugee? Comment below.