She persuades Guy to leave with her but, before they depart, she receives a top secret message about war supplies from Shanghai for the Communists in Jakarta. Guy decides to write a story about it. They quarrel, and split up. He injures his eye in an accident.
Eventually, he decides to join Jill at the airport as street fighting intensifies. He is an observer; he writes articles but, in the end, he does not support any side. As male dwarf Billy Kwan she gives the narrator of the movie some metrosexual features and some sort of fluttery understatement.
Kwan in voice-over becomes a main character of the story as we look at Jill and Guy through his eyes. He is a master of the wayang theatre of shadow puppets. At the same time, the puppetry expresses the Eastern philosophy. The character of Kwan also raises the issue of national belonging, as he is half-Chinese, while Guy is half-American. What does it mean to be Australian? How does it manifest in a clash with different culture? As in several of his Hollywood films, Weir implies problems and issues that interest him in what appears to be a simple story. Throughout his career, on stage and in film, he has collaborated with costume and production designer Catherine Martin, who is also his wife.
Luhrmann has his own production company, Bazmark Inq, based in Sydney in a heritage building he calls the House of Iona. Luhrmann has a first-look deal with 20th Century Fox that preserves his creative autonomy. And we are noted W for ridiculous kind of research, but this is what we like to do — the act of making must make your life rich. Following the theatrical release of Moulin Rouge!
Moulin Rouge! By setting down the principles by which he and his team at Bazmark created these three films, Luhrmann is also strategically intervening in the growing auteurist analysis of his works by framing the terms of reference for critics. Australia is the collective product of no less than four screenwriters and two editors; unsurprisingly, the screenplay and the pacing at over minutes are the weakest elements in the film.
While this is most obvious with Moulin Rouge! He embraces the artifice of the musical form to serve the sincerity of emotion. Scott Hastings has a promising career as an amateur ballroom dancing champion, but his creativity is stifled by the strict rules of competition that govern what kinds of steps are allowed. The crowd responds with applause but he and his partner, Liz, are disqualified. Enraged that they missed out on winning the championship, Liz leaves Scott for another dance partner, Ken Railings.
Scott dances his own steps in the rehearsal studio, unaware that Fran — a dowdy wallflower with glasses and pimples who is a beginner ballroom dancer — is watching him. Scott is initially sceptical, but agrees to rehearse with Fran in secret, while his pushy stage mother, Pat, and dance-hall instructor, Les, arrange a series of auditions to replace Liz.
A slow attraction develops between Scott and Fran over a montage of rehearsals, which include Fran removing her beer-goggle lenses to reveal a quiet beauty beneath. Scott accompanies Fran home one night and meets her Spanish family — her widowed father, Rico, and her nana, Ya Ya.
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Scott and Fran decide to incorporate these steps into their routine. As the championships draw near, Scott is pressured to partner up with leading dancer Tina Sparkle. But when Doug tells Scott the true story of his betrayal, Scott refuses to bow to pressure and insists on dancing with Fran. However simplistic it may be as a narrative device, the importation of Spanish dance into the sterile world of ballroom dancing serves as a powerful metaphor for the embracing of difference and the bridging of old and new generations.
These films share an obvious visual style of excess and glitz in costuming, makeup and musical performance pieces. Strictly Ballroom offers a textbook example of the influence of Hollywood genre films upon Australian cinema. The Montague and Capulet patriarchs are rivals in property development; their male offspring hang out in gangs on the beach, in the pool hall or cruising the streets. Following a prologue to be discussed below , the action commences with a stand-off between the rival Montague and Capulet gangs at a gas station, which escalates into a gun fight and fire, before culminating in the arrest of the chief antagonists Tybalt and Benvolio by police chief Captain Prince.
Wearing a mask, Romeo slips into the party unnoticed, but he finds the noise and colour of the spectacle overwhelming. He retreats to the bathroom, removes his mask and lingers by a fish tank, when he spies Juliet on the other side of the glass. The two playfully and wordlessly flirt between the fishes, before Juliet is whisked away by her nurse.
The party is the first time Juliet meets Dave, and he courts her with a ridiculous dance, while Romeo watches bemused, continuing to exchange furtive glances with Juliet. Tybalt spies Romeo without his mask, but he is restrained from confronting him by Capulet. Unaware that Romeo is hiding beside the pool, Juliet speaks aloud of her dilemma and her love for Romeo.
He reveals himself, but the surprise sees them both fall into the pool. Swimming and wading in the water together, the young couple court one another with words and kisses, and Juliet requests that Romeo arrange their marriage. Romeo enlists the help of Father Laurence who, after initially chiding Romeo for forgetting so quickly about Rosaline, sees in this union the chance to end the fighting between the two families and he secretly marries the couple. Back at the beach, Mercutio and Benvolio are confronted by Tybalt, who is looking to fight Romeo after he gate-crashed the party.
Intervening in the confrontation, Mercutio is stabbed by Tybalt wielding a shard of glass, which was intended for Romeo. Mercutio curses the two families and dies. Enraged with grief, Romeo pursues Tybalt and begs for him to kill him, but instead he ends up shooting Tybalt. Father Laurence advises Romeo to hide out in the wastelands of Mantua a trailer park until he can send word that it is safe to return. Romeo secretly visits Juliet that night and they consummate their marriage before his departure next morning. Grieving for both her lost cousin and husband and despairing because her parents want her to marry Dave Paris, Juliet visits Father Laurence and threatens to kill herself.
Father Laurence hatches a plan for Juliet to take a poison that will give her the appearance of death, so that she may escape her arranged marriage and be reunited with Romeo. Laurence sends an urgent message to Romeo advising him of the plan, but the Post Haste deliveryman is unable to deliver the package. Discovering her vial of poison, Romeo drinks it — just at the moment when Juliet wakes. Sensitive to the challenge that Shakespearean language poses to a contemporary audience particularly the youth market that the film is unapologetically aiming at , Luhrmann recapitulates the prologue with a voice-over by Father Laurence, his words visually restated by a montage of newspaper headlines, captions and magazine covers.
These are punctuated by explosive flash-forwards giving a sneak preview of the action to come, like a theatrical trailer on speed. Luhrmann cannily chose contemporary songs whose lyrics and mood would complement the action. The scene where Romeo and Juliet first see each other, on opposite sides of the fish tank, is beautifully staged and photographed, and the acting is without affectation or self-consciousness.
The motif of water, which provides sanctuary for the couple, has already been established when we first meet Juliet: her head is underwater in the bath, blissfully unaware of the domestic chaos downstairs. This shot is repeated when Romeo submerges his face in the bathroom sink, to escape the din of the party and the effects of ecstasy. As editor Jill Bilcock explains, the pacing of the scene is slow and luxurious so that we can enjoy the language. Fincina Hopgood Moulin Rouge! They take Christian to the Moulin Rouge where he sees the courtesan Satine perform. Their future together is further threatened by the fact that Satine is dying from consumption, although only Zidler and his assistant Marie know this.
The couple make plans to escape, but when Zidler informs Satine that she is dying and that The Duke plans to kill Christian, Satine reluctantly pretends she does not love Christian in order to save him. The couple are reunited on stage in song but as the curtain falls, Satine collapses and finally dies, leaving a distraught Christian to write the tale.
Critique Moulin Rouge! A more positive view would assert that, in its merging of the Hollywood musical with music videos, Bollywood iconography and the narrative conventions of opera, Luhrmann and his team have indeed created something new and alive out of a cinematic form — the musical — that many had dismissed as long since dead. In its tragic romantic ending, Moulin Rouge! The figure of Christian also recalls the sentimental, melancholic lover of archetypal Bollywood tales such as Devdas, which has been made into a film three times by P.
The choreography recreates Bollywood dance styles; the bejewelled costumes are inspired by Indian saris, salwar kameez and sherwani suits; and the setting includes a painted backdrop of the Taj Mahal. With their accompanying dance numbers, Bollywood producers can create promotional music videos lifted wholesale from the film. The effect upon the audience when they hear these familiar songs in the cinema is one of nostalgia, the pleasure of recognition. Many of the songs in Moulin Rouge! The choreography is charged with sexual tension and the threat of violence; the dark, expressionist lighting is punctuated with stark spotlights.
Note 1. Sarah travels from Mother England to the Northern Territory to confront her husband, who has long been absent from home while tending his cattle station, Faraway Downs. Sarah intends to convince her husband to accept an offer from King Carney to buy his cattle and return home. Upon her arrival in Darwin, she is greeted by The Drover, a rough, sunburnt man of action.
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Each takes an instant dislike to the other, although Sarah mistakenly assumes that The Drover is attracted to her. The childless Sarah is immediately charmed by Nullah and seized by a desire to protect him. To evade capture, Nullah hides in the water tank, but his mother, Daisy, tragically drowns.
A romantic attraction gradually develops between Sarah and The Drover. The group survives a life-threatening journey across the desert, guided by King George. Sarah decides to reinvest the money into Faraway Downs and settle there, inviting The Drover to be station manager. He is reluctant to be tied down to one place, but signals his acceptance of her offer when he turns up at the society ball, clean-shaven and wearing a white dinner jacket.
This causes a stir, as The Drover had been considered an outcast in white society for marrying an Aboriginal girl who died from tuberculosis. That night, Sarah and The Drover sleep together. Nullah wants to go on walkabout with his grandfather, but Sarah, fearing for his safety, refuses to let him go; she argues with The Drover, and The Drover leaves.
She is mourning the loss of both The Drover and Nullah, who has finally been captured by Sergeant Callahan under instruction from Fletcher and taken to Mission Island. Japanese planes attack Darwin, including the island. After being persuaded to return to Sarah by his brother-in-law Magarri, The Drover arrives in Darwin to be confronted by the aftermath of the bombing. The trio return to Faraway Downs, and Sarah finally lets Nullah go on walkabout.
Critique As the lengthy synopsis suggests, there is more than one story in Australia, and indeed it feels like more than one film. There is a shift in genre and visual tone as we move from the western to the war film, and the deep, rich browns and reds of the outback are replaced by the grey monochrome of a city under siege. Our three protagonists are separated for much of this second half, and the film is weaker for it.
Released in the year when the Prime Minister of Australia offered a formal apology to the members of the stolen generations, Australia represents a conscious, heartfelt engagement on the part of white Australians with our history and a desire to envisage reconciliation on screen. Her favourable review of the film was attacked by Germaine Greer, who argued that the film romanticizes a period of Australian history when Aboriginal workers were exploited by the northern cattle industry Greer Langton is under no illusion that this is a film, not a history book; one that expresses a hopeful vision for our future as well as telling stories of our past.
Like the sacrificial figure of Archy, who is killed on the Turkish battlefield, Magarri runs from left to right of frame and as the bullet hits, his arms are raised and his back arches. This scene has further intertextual resonance in the casting of Ngoombujarra, who earlier in his career won Best Supporting Actor at the AFI Awards for his performance in Blackfellas James Ricketson, The poster is bordered by smaller images of scenarios that we have come to expect in Australian national cinema: love amongst families, outdoor activities and suburban settings.
Although ever present, the ways in which disability is represented in Australian cinema have become more diverse as minority-group interests become valued and disability is increasingly recognized in terms of social restriction rather than physical ailment.
Throughout this short piece I will consider the changing representation of disability in Australian cinema at key moments of the Australian film industry, focusing mainly on the post-renaissance period. Perhaps due to the geographical isolation of Australia, Australian national cinema is characterized by a willingness to give scene-time to those normally considered peripheral, such as people with disability.
Disability was used in early Australian cinema to project a unique national character. By individualizing the experience of disability, these films allowed audiences to feel good about being Australian. During the s, a politicization of the way disability was represented in popular cinema was underway internationally, as critics and academics began documenting stereotypes of disability. These stereotypes, which focused on criminality, adjustment and sexuality, contributed to an individualization of disability Longmore Warm Nights on a Slow Moving Train Bob Ellis, explored an intersection of sexuality and adjustment to suggest people with disability were a drain on resources and unable to contribute to the workforce.
The film is likewise characterized by an atmosphere of criminality. Likewise, minor characters with disability worked in films such as the Mad Max cycle to create an atmosphere of threat or criminality. Disability has appeared throughout every genre that has come to be associated with Australian national cinema. During the s, as Australian film-makers sought a more international audience with international genres and modes of funding, the most successful film of the period Shine Scott Hicks, was a typical triumph over the adversary of disability narrative with an Australian inflection.
The s was an important decade in terms of the representation of disability as the growing number of culturally-diverse film-makers in the Australian film industry initiated a critical focus on minority group interests.
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Despite being consistently represented during this period, characters with disability were not, however, involved in the celebration of diversity, as social restrictions were rarely addressed. Death in Brunswick John Ruane, recognized for its representation of a more inclusive multicultural national identity, used disability to punish bad parenting.
In , Rolf de Heer and disabled actor and film-maker Heather Rose embarked on a project that would revolutionize the way disability was represented and reviewed in Australian cinema. Dance Me To My Song reverses the trend to use disabled characters in support of able-bodied characters as it uses the able-bodied Madeline to support the protagonist Julia played by Rose who has a disability. With some few exceptions such as Dance Me to My Song , in a cinema fascinated with social constructions, disability has been individualized. However, due to the changing nature of the Australian film industry and the international politicization of disability, a change in focus is underway.
By the s, Australian cinema began to include disability in terms of diversity and narratives examined both the physical difference of having a disability and the social stigma that came along with it. As a young child, Annie is misdiagnosed as intellectually disabled and placed in an institution, where she remains until Jessica Hathaway, an energetic young social worker, begins working there.
Despite the personal and professional problems Jessica encounters as a result of her quest, she perseveres and ultimately takes the Victorian Health Commission to Court. Critique Cinematic representations of disability, particularly within the drama or biopic genres, usually present disability as a personal tragedy that requires individuals to adapt. While the narratives invoke compassion amongst the audience for the characters with disability, the important characterization of the carer invites a simultaneous message of burden and assumptions of dependency.
Despite the at-times negative impact, Jessica sticks with Annie because she is a carer bestowed with saintly qualities. The film also highlights the importance of mental stimulation in therapy, and cautions against leaving any child behind due to preconceived notions about what they can do. David is a pivotal character in this film as he articulates fear amongst the able-bodied population in dealing with the disabled, claiming he does not want to meet Annie because he knows he is only a car accident away from being like her. Julia who has severe cerebral palsy requires a carer for independence.
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Both women fall for Eddie, a man with questionable connections, who forms a friendship with Julia. By sleeping with him first, Madeline steals him from Julia, but then Julia steals him back. By adopting a generic love-triangle storyline with a character who has a disability, this film challenges deeply-ingrained cultural beliefs regarding disability. Otherwise, Julia is extremely independent: she goes outside and sits in the sun where she met Eddie or meets up with her friend Rix for some drinks.
Point-of-view shots are restricted to what Julia sees, taking the gaze off her impaired body. When with Rix, Julia remains constant in her identity as a drinking buddy, even trying to seduce her at one stage. When Eddie and Julia go to a corner shop for an ice cream they both agree that the prices are too high but the woman working there singles Julia out, taking issue with her personal attitude.
She is overly nice to Eddie and speaks to him about Julia as though Julia is not there. When Julia swears, they are asked to leave as the shop worker attempts to avoid having to gaze on a disabled person who refuses to fit in and be quiet. The film questions why disabled people are isolated from society in this way. The cinematic tendency to present women with disability as needy and dependent is debunked as Madeline is constantly disempowered by men in her life, yet continues to pursue them. While the role reversal between popular cinematic representations of the able and the disabled is empowering in this film, the date-rape punishment goes too far.
This could be seen as disempowering to all women, including women with disability, who experience a higher incidence of abuse than the general population. Disability is politicized in this film through the heterosexual coupling of Julia a disabled woman and Eddie an able-bodied man , who chose her over Madeline an able-bodied woman. Whereas Madeline, who has little self-confidence despite her bravado, was only able to seduce Eddie by pretending to be Julia on the phone in order to get him to come to the house.
Julia is a complex character that we come to know through her consistent personality, use of camera, and editing, rather than through exploitative gazing on her impairment. She is self-assured and finds stability in her disability identity. Super cripple stories are comforting because lack of control is terrifying, particularly if it means dependency Morris They also assure nondisabled people of their normality.
Although Dance Me to My Song highlights these important disability issues in such an effective way, it was screened at the Cannes film festival in an inaccessible location to its writer and star Heather Rose, who had to be carried up a flight of stairs to the theatre. He finally achieves the popular and personal success he seemed destined for as a child later in life. He returns to Australia and disappears from the spotlight into a mental institution.
He eventually reappears to rise in fame once again and marry Gillian, an astrologer. Editor: Pip Karmel Critique Duration: While Shine has been compared to a number of disability-themed Hollywood films from Rainman to Forrest Gump, the atmosphere and characterizations remain distinctly Australian. Unlike these films, Shine incorporates naturalistic depictions of romantic and family relationships and professional failure as well as success. Shine Australianizes both the Hollywood melodrama and disability genres by featuring a quirky character that succeeds because of rather than in spite of their disability.
The film perpetuates several stereotypes regarding disability, including compensatory abilities, infantilization, and women as saintly carer Shakespeare Many films present people with disability as extraordinary in other ways in order to compensate for impairment. This thematic tendency locates disability in the body rather than unadaptive social practices.
When David is successful in playing the Rachmaninoff 3 his hands and face are never framed together in the same shot until just before he collapses. As David begins to lose control in this scene, his fingers keep moving, just as they continue during his shock therapy. Later in the film as David re-enters society he is drawn to the piano and, via his extraordinary talent, becomes a contributing member of society. David is immediately positioned as childlike at the beginning of the film when the narrative flashes back from the confused old man in the rain to the determined young boy at a piano competition.
As an adult he always seems to be laughing; he hopscotches down corridors, is unable to clean up after himself, plays in bubble baths and jumps naked on a trampoline. David is pure and determined to please everyone he meets. While this leads to opportunity for young David, adolescent David is led astray and experiences a catastrophic breakdown while, finally, older David is able to re-enter society.
This media infantilization of disability perpetuates the belief that people with disability are totally dependent. The relationship between David and Gillian is often criticized for playing into the stereotype of woman as carer and ultimate deliverer of a disabled man. However, in many ways, Gillian is as socially marginal as David; she lives her life according to the stars and has previously been unable to commit to marriage. The scene in which David goes for a swim just before his first concert and gets his entire music score wet presents the relationship as a partnership rather than a carer-patient relationship.
While many believe the film to be a positive portrayal of overcoming disability and disappointment, deeply ingrained cultural stereotypes regarding disability are utilized throughout this film. Throughout, David is presented as a childlike figure, burdened by musical genius out of his control and an overbearing father. Although refusing association amongst people with disability and rejecting the notion of a disability community, David re-enters society via community and his relationship with Gillian re-forms an unconventional family unit.
It is a coming of age story about acceptance and fitting in. The story centres on the Mollison family, whose interactions are dominated by oldest son Charlie, who has autism and ADHD. Youngest son Thomas is a frustrated teenager who wishes for a sense of normality in his life. Critique The film is most unlike Rainman, the most well-known cinematic exploration of autism. Charlie has no compensatory abilities and he is presented as a boy, albeit a very difficult one to be around at times.
However, in some ways this perpetuates the cinematic infantilization of people with disability, as Charlie is actually 18 years old. Children with disability are often seen in popular culture and media via Telethons and other inspirational stories; however, adults and the social exclusion they experience are often forgotten about. Charlie is constructed as a perpetual child and is not permitted extensive experiences of his own. Thomas never learnt to swim because his family has moved around so much and, now, at his new school they are already up to the Bronze medallion.
As Thomas struggles to swim one lap, the rest of his class snigger and laugh, yet he is forced to participate without any consideration of his lack of ability. Despite the plethora of quirky characters or characters that exist on the fringes of the mainstream, Australian cinema has not really explored the experience of autism throughout its history. Where Somersault continued to relegate autism to the sidelines by using a secondary character, The Black Balloon puts autism up front and as an integral part of the family. While the message of diversity is clear, as Thomas, by the end of the film, comes to accept Charlie and participate with him in his strange activities, such as banging a wooden spoon on the concrete in the backyard, this acceptance does not extend beyond the family structure in an overt way.
Ultimately, The Black Balloon is a significant film in the Australian cinema landscape, particularly in the context of disability, diversity and Australianness. It succeeds in making audiences feel uncomfortable and acknowledges the diversity of Australian identity through a mosaic of characterizations: the ocker parents, the disabled brother who throws tantrums in the shop, the beautiful yet dorky girlfriend Directory of World Cinema and Thomas who just wants to fit in but ultimately learns to be proud to ride on the Autistic School Bus with the brother whom he loves.
This film acknowledges the changes people with disability require in order to lead fulfilling lives and, likewise, acknowledges that at times this may be difficult on the people who love them. It highlights the impact of both impairment and disabling attitudes on the lives of people with disability — but without paying undue attention to their bodies.
Shorts can be in any genre — animated, narrative fiction, experimental or documentary. They are made using a wide range of film or video gauges, stocks or technologies. Documentaries might also be regarded as shorts if they are less than thirty minutes, given that many are routinely made as a television half-hour typically 26 minutes. The significant interest in short films in Australia is demonstrated by the enormous number of short film festivals held throughout the country — more than sixty short film festivals run annually. A number of high-profile award-winning short films have turned the global spotlight on Australian film-making.
In Australia, the rise of the short film can be traced back to the post-war period. Among the organizations established at this time was the Realist Film Unit, which was formed in to make films on social justice issues, including a number of dramatized documentaries like Prices and the People Bob Mathews, , which was initially sponsored by the Communist Party of Australia, although funding was later withdrawn. The most intense flush of the short-film form came in the s and after, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney, where enthusiasm for film was establishing both a lobby and a climate for the renaissance of the industry in the early s.
Two prominent short film-making groups at this time were Ubu, an avant-garde films group which made, exhibited and distributed experimental films, and which emerged in Sydney in , and a loose group of film-makers who clustered in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Carlton in the s including Nigel Buesst, Brian Davies, Gil Brealey, Giorgio Mangiamele, Dusan Marek and Paul Winkler. Short films have long been regarded as stepping-stones for budding filmmakers on the path to feature film production, but many have argued that the form itself has value, that there is something intrinsic about the short film form as a unique and poetic art form.
This may explain why many feature film-makers often return to the short film despite having successful feature careers. The film was one of eight shorts made by leading film-makers from around the world to promote the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. The latter film, about a talking, overprotective, dope-smoking dog, subsequently formed the basis of a television comedy series. The Australian film industry is policy-led, and the policies of State and Federal Government film-funding bodies have played a significant role in shaping the form of Australian short films — as they do arguably more so in the feature sector, which is heavily dependent on government support.
Some funding bodies identify funds for the express purpose of funding shorts, but short film is generally conceived as a training ground for feature film-making and is highly competitive. The visibility of a number of directors whose short films launched them into successful feature careers has also been responsible for the view of shorts as a pathway to feature production. Examples most notably come from film schools, which provide an important contribution to short film production; these include Robert Luketic, a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts VCA , whose short musical, Titsiana Booberini caught the attention of Hollywood and he went on to make Legally Blonde , and other films such as Monster-inLaw The largest and most significant producer of short films in Australia in recent decades has been the national film school, the Australian Film, Television and Radio School.
The AFTRS was founded in , and among its more than alumni are many of the best-known names in Australian cinema. In addition, a host of film-makers who are less well known but equally important to the success and vitality of Australian screen culture have honed their craft on short films produced at AFTRS. Prior to the s, the bulk of production by Aboriginal people had been documentaries.
While there were some excellent contemporary initiatives that produced interesting documentary work,6 in more recent times, Indigenous organizations such as the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association CAAMA have turned to drama production, as well as new media. Their films reflect on identity, relationships, culture, tradition and representation from historical and political perspectives. Like the feature film sector, which, despite close geographic proximity, has seen few productions set in South-east Asia, the shorts sector has not exploited the region for locations most likely due to smaller budgets and the fact that the film-makers are more often at entry level.
Short film is a significant and valued art form that has been vitally important for the development of several generations of Australian film-makers. Short films have also helped build audiences for Australian cinema. They have enjoyed popular success and awards at film festivals in Australia and internationally, and this success translates into acclaim and kudos for the industry as a whole. Australian short films present a microcosm of the wider industry in terms of the themes and tropes, and are influenced by the same policy directions. As an accessible medium, the form has provided a noteworthy voice for multicultural, or bi-cultural, Australia and is a site of intense creative production.
Lisa French Notes 1.
The film tells the story of a young boy, Manuk, who roams a seemingly-deserted town to glean and recycle the debris of war. We first meet him in the wreck of an aeroplane, looking for a particular piece of war refuse — a bolt — to turn into a toy soldier for his collection. He sings a song about a bear.
Upon hearing the unmistakable low whistle of a train in the distance he runs to the track and places the bolt on the rail. The train thunders past on its urgent mission to carry tanks to the front. Manuk stands mesmerized, and grins widely. Once the train has passed he retrieves the bolt which has become magnetized.
He makes his way through the town, pretending to be a soldier engaged in house-tohouse fighting, until his attention is captured by the drone of aeroplane engines. Silently he watches them slowly cross the sky. His war game begins again as he crouches behind rocks on a ridge overlooking an area with houses jumbled together. Manuk imagines he is with his dad, pinned down by enemy fire. Instead we hear the postman cry in surprise and pain, before crashing his bicycle and shouting at his unseen tormentor.
Manuk slinks away, and climbs the hill towards his home. He takes a key from a special hiding spot, and approaches the veranda in front of his house. He notices a parcel, and hurries to open it. He pulls out an old leather wallet containing a faded black and white photograph of a man crouching with a child dressed as Manuk is now, but much younger. Manuk gently caresses the photograph with his thumb. He then pulls out a set of dog tags, and an old boot. He marches up and down in front of his house, wearing the boots, as if he is a soldier on guard. Later, inside the house, he plays with the toy soldiers and tanks he has made from bits and pieces of metal he has found, and falls asleep on the floor.
It has screened at over film festivals around the world, and is the most awarded film in the almost forty-year history of the AFTRS. Dynamic and subtle camera moves are a feature of the film. These are not, of course, real camera moves at all, but rather computer-generated approximations and recreations. The movement of the camera within a shot acts to identify the work as digital rather than handdrawn 2D animation, but the principal purposes of the camera moves are to reinforce the storytelling and enhance mood cues. The first two shots of the film majestically swoop from a close-up of a butterfly on the crown of a roof down over the roof and tracking in to the fuselage of a crashed aeroplane to end facing Manuk, who is sorting through the ruins of war.
The next shot is a brief overhead which, rising slowly, frames Manuk through a hole in the fuselage as he walks out into the sunlight. This shot will be repeated in the next sequence as the train passes, and again, heart-wrenchingly in the epilogue where, along with the dissolves between shots, the gradual upward lift of the overhead shot completes our separation from Manuk that had begun when he saw the parcel.
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The film uses a naturalistic, earthy colour palette, full of greens, browns and rusty reds; like the camerawork the colours are not garish or showy as in many animated films. Even the sky is yellowish rather than blue or grey. Apart from the wide shot of the train track running off into the mountains, the only natural flora or fauna seen in the film insect noises are heard throughout is the butterfly in the opening shot, an unidentified white and orange pieridae, which is disturbed by a metallic clang.
Its flight launches the camera backwards over the wooden roof of a traditional Korean building. Manuk is oblivious. This is fitting, as the sound design and sound editing, along with the score, are critical to the telling and comprehension of the story. And it is through sound that we identify and are aligned with Manuk at two critical moments: first, as the train passes Manuk its noise diminishes, leaving only the wind and his heartbeat between the boy and the train; and, second, in his war game leading up to the assault on the postman when he talks with his father and we hear the sounds of explosions and gunfire in his head.
The use of atmospheres is also notable here, particularly the sound of insects, birds and frogs which runs through the film, dropping out only when overpowered by other sounds, and in the epilogue when the soundscape is cleared to leave only the sound of Manuk sleeping, and the wind whistling through the house. The use of the sound of the wind in this final scene gestures back both to the incident with the train and to the opening scene where the wind whistles through the aeroplane.
In the epilogue the wind is made more eerie, ominous and other-worldly by the removal of other environmental noises. Music is used sparingly but effectively in the film. This motif appears again in variations at the start of the development and again at the beginning of the climax. Music is used most consistently in the climax. As Manuk discovers the parcel the pattern of short bursts of a single or few notes is broken.
They are reunited at last, but forever destined to be apart. The crew is able to take over the Hieronymous but, when one of the crew is discovered to have the plague, the captain decides to head home. It is now that they discover a levitating island. On this island the crew of the airship discovers a species of creature that lures people in to traps in order to drain their blood.
Morello is very nearly killed by one of the creatures, but another of the crew arrives just in time and shoots it dead. The crew feast on the body, then discover that the cooked flesh has the power to cure the plague. Pupal young of the creatures are taken aboard the airship. Only one of the pupae survives, but it hatches and thrives.
With everyone else dead, Belgon dies in a struggle with Morello. The navigator is now left with the prospect of feeding his own blood to the creature in order to get it back to his country so that he can stop the plague and save his wife. Critique While there have been plenty of Australian Academy Award nominees and even a few winners for their contributions to science fiction and fantasy films, The Mysterious Geographical Adventures of Jasper Morello was the first — and so far only — such film to receive a nomination in its own right.
In terms of plot, this is effectively a feature-length film presented in less than half an hour. In addition, an astonishing depth of characterization is achieved, and an entire world is also displayed. The dark and shadowy silhouette animation suggests the same brooding gloom of such nineteenth-century works as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Dracula and Frankenstein. This impression is reinforced by the mechanistic technology, floating architecture, and pervasive iron lace and gears. The iron-airship technology parallels that of the oceangoing nineteenth-century steamships.
This is a world where islands defy gravity as easily as the unlikely airships, yet it is not hard to suspend disbelief and accept this. The central theme concerns the value of human life. The vampirecreatures need to be nourished with blood, and on the voyage home there is only human blood available. Thus, some must be sacrificed if many are to live.
For Dr Belgon there is no moral conflict, and the crewmen are no more than feedstock as far as he is concerned. Morello, by contrast, has the role of everyman: he has a stronger sense of morality, but this makes his dilemma more intense. Saving people is clearly good. Sacrificing people is clearly bad. Sacrificing some people to save others is a very difficult call.
Oddly enough, by the end of the film Jasper is in a much more clear-cut position. He is the only survivor in the ship, so he only has to decide whether or not to sacrifice himself. His blood can keep the vampire-creature alive long enough to save his wife and many others. In our own society we are witnessing the beginnings of a parallel situation. Factory workers are exposed to toxins in order to produce consumer goods more cheaply. Not good, but we generally buy the goods and try not to think why they are so cheap.
Pharmaceuticals are priced out of the reach of some so that others may have a higher return on investment. The temptation to buy shares in the pharmaceutical company is strong. You donate a kidney so that your child may live. That is a personal decision. You need a liver transplant and a black market liver is available. Did someone die so that you may live?
The talent to make many more such films exists. As yet, the backing does not. Yet, this genre has suffered from enormous critical neglect. Bushranger movies are a distant cousin of the American western, sharing a tradition of celebrating bad men and outlaws, but there are also significant differences between the two genres. Bushranging stories are often set in a debauched political and social climate. In a landscape where the state apparatus of judges, politicians and police are the real villains, bushrangers who plunder, murder and terrorize are represented as folk heroes.
The Limelight Division was the largest Australian film production organization in the first years of the twentieth century, and was known both for its religious epics such as Soldiers of the Cross , and for its documentaries of major secular public events including The Inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia and the official record of the Royal Tour of Australia in the same year. It may seem surprising that such an organization would make a film about notorious outlaws, but perhaps this reveals something about the fascination with bushranging and with Australian subjects in this period.
As the name suggests, very little of this film remains. These suggest a variety of Kelly gang films, although they could just be the result of inventive wording to arouse interest in the other Kelly films. Due to the overwhelming success of The Story of the Kelly Gang, film producers were eager to make their own bushranging films. In , the Taits reshot their feature and released it under the same title. While some claim that this was the movie repackaged, images on the theatrical poster suggest that this edition included a different cast and was shot at different locations.
Sadly, verifying whether it was an entirely different production is difficult as only fragmented scenes remain from this version. For about ten months, bushranging films flooded Australian movie theatres. Vane was a member of the Ben Hall Gang, who turned his back on his bushranging mates for a lawful life. The film received positive reviews and played to large audiences. Yet, the most significant aspect about this movie was that it marked the first recorded involvement in narrative film production of pioneer exhibitor and producer Charles Cozens Spencer.
Also in , John Gavin directed two popular bushranging films: Thunderbolt and Moonlite. Gavin was a particularly prolific producer of bushranging films before the ban was introduced. When censorship was enforced, Gavin left Australia for Hollywood where he appeared in a number of B-Westerns. He returned to Australia in with the intention of producing a serial based on Ned Kelly. But when he ran in censorship problems he again found refuge in Hollywood. Rolfe was known for his sympathetic representation of bushrangers as chivalrous and gentlemanly, and his films in particular spurred the campaign by police and others against bushranging films on the grounds that they romanticized crime.
But while directors like Mervale were trying to sanitize the genre, others were celebrating all its blood and gore. Not only does Morgan kill his gang members in cold blood, he destroys anyone or anything in his path. Its massive success was the final straw for authorities in New South Wales and Victoria.
Bans were introduced in the two states in , remaining in place until the s.
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In the age of censorship, producers who had nothing to lose and no reputation to destroy were generally the ones game enough to make bushranging films, and some were passed by the censors if they portrayed bushrangers as criminals and the police and judicial system in a positive light. In , Southwell made another Kelly film, When the Kellys Were Out, however this film did not fare so well with the censors, Southwell was not deterred and in he returned with yet another Kelly film, When the Kellys Rode, but this too was banned. Originally Raymond Longford was given the option to direct the movie, but he passed, fearing the taboo of bushranging could severely tarnish his credibility.
In , Ken G Hall flirted with the idea of making a Ned Kelly film, but chose instead to make the much more politically-acceptable bio-pic Smithy about pioneering Australian aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith. By the late s, censorship on bushranging films eased but the boom was long gone. Bushranging films appeared here and there, but nothing that would suggest a renaissance.
Cecil Homes brought some credibility to the genre in with Captain Thunderbolt. Featuring the internationallyfamed Peter Finch as the charismatic Captain Starlight, it also enjoyed some box-office success overseas. The arrival of television provided a new medium for bushranging films. Also in , Ned Kelly became a popular subject for short films.
Shead and Burstall each had ideas to direct their own Kelly feature but, in a climate where bushrangers were considered outdated, neither could raise the necessary funding. A ratings bonanza in Australia, it was also successful in Britain. The film told the story of famous Aboriginal bushranger Jimmy Governor, acknowledging that bushrangers were not only white settlers or the sons of immigrants.
Written and produced by historian Ian Jones, it depicted Kelly as a gentleman bushranger. Following a similar pattern was the feature Robbery Under Arms, which cast Sam Neill as the courteous and well-mannered Captain Starlight. Since the early s, a number of comedies have had great fun with the genre. Films such as The Nun and the Bandit , Reckless Kelly and Ned all transport the principles and codes of nineteenth-century bushrangers into a modern-day social and political climate. While none of these films were hugely successful, they did provide a refreshing look at the genre.
After a huge promotional campaign, in came the latest Ned Kelly feature. Starring Heath Ledger, and featuring Geoffrey Rush, Naomi Watts and Orlando Bloom, it was a box-office hit, even though there were some complaints that the sanitized representation of bushrangers in recent times had dulled the once highly immoral and wicked genre. Still, not all was lost. Winning the Best Film at the AFI Awards, it painted a vivid image of the debauched social climate that spawned bushrangers during the nineteenth century. If this is true, then it makes it the longest narrative film for its time.
Sadly, film deterioration has destroyed all but 16 minutes of original footage. So a complete synopsis of the film is difficult. The programme booklet that was sold for 6d at the original screenings fills in some of the missing content. As this film predated intertitles and sound, the programme booklet would have helped audience members follow the narrative.
Synopsis Scene 1: Fitzpatrick Mystery. Constable Fitzpatrick arrives with a warrant to arrest Dan Kelly for cattle stealing. Fitzpatrick manhandles Mrs Kelly and attempts to molest Kate Kelly. As protection for the women, Ned shoots the trooper in the wrist. The last part of this scene remains. The footage begins with a distraught Mrs Kelly led into the house by Kate. When Kate returns, Fitzpatrick gropes and roughly shoves her.
From the house, the Kelly Gang emerge. As Fitzpatrick goes for his gun, Ned shoots him in the wrist. Kate holds her molester at gun point as the gang casually ride into the distance. Scene 2: Stringybark Creek.