AustLit logo
Film Analysis 2: Australian Cinema (FITV12-230)


form y separately published work icon Mad Max 2 : The Road Warrior Terry Hayes , George Miller , Brian Hannant , ( dir. George Miller ) Australia : Kennedy Miller Entertainment , 1981 Z988552 1981 single work film/TV science fiction (taught in 4 units)

In this sequel to the original Mad Max, Max finds himself involved with a small group of settlers who live around a small working oil refinery, producing that most precious of products in a post-apocalyptic society: petrol.

form y separately published work icon Gallipoli David Williamson , ( dir. Peter Weir ) Sydney : Associated R & R Films , 1981 Z948654 1981 single work film/TV (taught in 11 units)

The narrative begins in Western Australia in 1915 and follows the paths of Archie Hamilton and Frank Dunne, before and after their enlistment in the Australian Imperial Forces. Hamilton is the patriotic son of a grazier and Frank Dunne is a drifter with no great desire to fight for the British Empire. They meet as runners in an outback footrace and become best mates. After training in Egypt, they land at Gallipoli, just as the great Allied assaults of August 1915 are to begin.

Source: Australian Screen.

form y separately published work icon Rabbit-Proof Fence Christine Olsen , ( dir. Phillip Noyce ) Australia : Rumbalara Films Olsen Levy Productions , 2002 Z919523 2002 single work film/TV (taught in 15 units)

Based on real life events that occurred in 1931, Rabbit-Proof Fence is the story of three mixed-race Aboriginal children who are forcibly abducted from their mothers by the Western Australian government. Molly (aged fourteen), her sister Daisy (aged eight), and their cousin Gracie (aged ten) are taken from their homes at Jigalong, situated in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, at the orders of the Protector of Aborigines, A.O. Neville, and sent to an institution at Moore River to be educated and trained as domestic servants. After a few days, Molly leads the other two girls in an escape. What ensues is an epic journey that tests the girls' will to survive and their hope of finding the rabbit-proof fence to guide them home.

Although they are pursued by the institution's Aboriginal tracker and the police, Molly knows enough about bush craft to help them hide their tracks. They head east in search of the world's longest fence - built to keep rabbits out - because Molly knows that this will lead them back to Jigalong. Over the course of nine weeks, the girls walk almost 2,400 kilometres before Gracie is captured attempting to catch a train. Molly and Daisy avoid capture but eventually collapse from exhaustion on the saltpans not far from Jigalong. When they wake, they see the spirit bird, an eagle, flying overhead. Its significance gives the girls the extra energy they need and they are able to make it back to their home.

The Sons of Matthew [film]!$!Charles Chauvel!$! !$!!$!1949
form y separately published work icon The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert Stephan Elliott , ( dir. Stephan Elliott ) Australia : Latent Image Productions Specific Films , 1994 Z367706 1994 single work film/TV humour satire (taught in 8 units) 'Tick' Belrose, a Sydney drag queen, accepts his ex-wife's invitation to bring his stage show to the outback. Felicia, a younger drag queen, and the grieving Bernadette. They set out for Alice Springs in a second-hand bus that they name 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert'. the journey takes them to Broken Hill, Coober Pedy and are rescued by an open-minded mechanic when Priscilla breaks down in the desert. In Alice Springs, Tick meets the young son he barely knows and the three climb Kings Canyon together in full drag, before making their debut at the Alice Springs casino.
form y separately published work icon Lantana Andrew Bovell , ( dir. Ray Lawrence ) Sydney : Jan Chapman Productions , 2001 Z900877 2001 single work film/TV thriller (taught in 6 units)

'A woman disappears. Four marriages are drawn into a tangled web of love, deceit, sex and death. Not all of them survive. LANTANA is a psychological thriller about love. It's about the mistakes we make, the consequences we suffer, and the attempts we make to fix things up.'

Source: Screen Australia. (Sighted: 4/12/2013)

form y separately published work icon The Castle Rob Sitch , Santo Cilauro , Tom Gleisner , Jane Kennedy , ( dir. Rob Sitch ) Australia : Working Dog Productions , 1997 Z1542696 1997 single work film/TV humour (taught in 4 units)

The Kerrigan family's home is situated right beside one of Melbourne's airports, but they don't mind. In fact, they love living there. When the government and airport authorities announce that they are buying up all the properties in the neighbourhood in order to make way for airport extensions, Darryl decides to defend his right to live in his beloved home. The Castle is the story of how they take on the authorities, all the way to the High Court.

form y separately published work icon Gettin' Square Chris Nyst , ( dir. Jonathan Teplitzky ) Australia United Kingdom (UK) : Working Title Films Mushroom Pictures Freshwater Pictures Squared Productions , 2003 Z1049762 2003 single work film/TV humour crime (taught in 1 units)

''Wattsy' Wirth is fresh out of prison and determined to go straight. But like his ex cell-mate, Johnny Spit, and reformed gangster Dabba Barrington, he discovers that getting on the straight and narrow is a lot harder than he thought. On the outside there are old scores and old enemies, as well as a few new ones, like the newly formed Crimes Investigation Commission. With the CIC breathing down their necks and pressure from underworld boss Chicka Martin and corrupt cop Arnie Deviers, it will take Wattsy, Spit and Dabba all their street smarts and rat cunning to stay one step ahead and become square-heads.'

Source: Screen Australia. (Sighted: 6/8/2013)

form y separately published work icon Australia Baz Luhrmann , Stuart Beattie , Ronald Harwood , Richard Flanagan , ( dir. Baz Luhrmann ) Sydney : Bazmark Films , 2008 Z1531345 2008 single work film/TV (taught in 8 units)

At the beginning of World War II, Lady Sarah Ashley travels from her home in England to Northern Australia to confront her husband, whom she believes is having an affair. He is in the country to oversee the selling of his enormous cattle station, Faraway Downs. Her husband sends Drover, an independent stockman, to transport her to Faraway Downs. When Lady Sarah arrives at the station, however, she finds that her husband has been murdered (allegedly by King George, an Aboriginal elder) and that cattle station manager Neil Fletcher is trying to gain control of Faraway Downs, so that Lesley 'King' Carney will have a complete cattle monopoly in the Northern Territory.

Lady Sarah is captivated by Nullah (King George's grandson) son of an Aboriginal mother and an unknown white father. When Nullah tells her that he has seen her cattle being driven onto Carney's land, Fletcher beats him. Lady Sarah fires Fletcher, deciding to try to run the cattle station herself. To save the property from Carney, she enlists the aid of Drover; together, they drive 2,000 head of cattle across hundreds of miles of the country's most unforgiving land. In the course of the journey, she falls in love with both Drover and the Australian landscape.

Lady Sarah, Nullah, and Drover live together happily at Faraway Downs for two years, while Fletcher (the actual murderer of Lady Sarah's husband and very likely the father of Nullah) kills Carney, marries his daughter, and takes over Carney's cattle empire. When the authorities send Nullah to live on Mission Island with the other half-Aboriginal children, Lady Sarah is devastated. In the meantime, she works as a radio operator in Darwin.

When the Japanese attack the island and Darwin in 1942, Lady Sarah fears that Nullah has been killed and Drover, who had quarrelled with Lady Sarah and left the station, believes Lady Sarah has been killed. Learning of Nullah's abduction to Mission Island, however, he sets out to rescue him. Lady Sarah decides to sell Faraway Downs to Fletcher and return to England. Drover and Nulla sail back into port at Darwin as Lady Sarah is about to depart, and the three are reunited. Fletcher, distraught at the death of his wife, attempts to shoot Nullah, but is speared by King George and dies.

form y separately published work icon The Proposition Nick Cave , ( dir. John Hillcoat ) Australia United Kingdom (UK) : Autonomous Jackie O Productions Pictures in Paradise Surefire Film Productions LLP , 2005 Z1216692 2005 single work film/TV thriller western crime (taught in 8 units)

'Set in the 1880s, [The Proposition] opens in the middle of a frenzied gunfight between the police and a gang of outlaws. Charlie Burns ... and his brother Mikey are captured by Captain Stanley... Together with their psychopathic brother Arthur, ... they are wanted for a brutal crime. Stanley makes Charlie a seemingly impossible proposition in an attempt to bring an end to the cycle of bloody violence.'

Source: Nick Cave's website (

Sighted: 20/09/2005

Two Hands [film]!$!Gregor Jordan!$! !$!!$!1999


In this subject, students will undertake a critical investigation of the history of Australian film, focusing mainly on post -1970 cinema. Through a program of screenings, lectures and discussions, students will examine a diverse range of Australian films and filmmakers, and explore the connections between recurrent themes in Australian cinema and Australian history, society and culture.

Students will learn to analyse modes of representation and to recognise generic and stylistic patterns in key feature films. They will also learn to recognise visual and other devices such as the use of landscape in developing character and symbolism, and to assess the contribution of feature films to the concept of national identity.


Two Comparative Film Analyses , each of around 1000 words, in which students compare and contrast treatment of themes and issues of relevance to Australian society


Tutorial Presentation: students will make a 20- minute oral presentation on a film viewed in class,using audiovisual materials to support their views.They will relate their chosen film to other Australian and overseas films, and will identify generic and thematic characteristics and the use of filmic techniques to evoke emotional response.


Researched Essay: This will comprise approximately 1500 - 2000 words on a selected topic, showing the links between the films and/or filmmakers under discussion and a major theme or themes in Australian film history


Viewing Test: Students will view two extracts, each of approximately 10 minutes duration, and will then write a commentary of 1200 to 1500 words on the ways that these extracts represent and illustrate key themes, comparing their treatment to other films viewed or discussed during the course.


Other Details

September Semester

Levels: Undergraduate