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Australian Screen (3012HUM)
Semester 2 / 2010


y separately published work icon Film in Australia : An Introduction Albert Moran , Errol Vieth , Cambridge New York (City) : Cambridge University Press , 2006 Z1882610 2006 multi chapter work criticism (taught in 10 units) 'Film in Australia: An Introduction is a groundbreaking book that systematically addresses the wide-ranging output of Australian feature films. Adopting a genre approach, it gives a different take on Australian films made since 1970, bypassing the standard run of historical texts and actor- or character-driven studies of Australian film. Comedy, adventure, horror, science fiction, crime, art films and other types are analyzed with clarity and insight so the reader can recognize and understand all kinds of Australian films, whether they are contemporary or older features, obscure gems or classic blockbusters' (BOOK JACKET).
form y separately published work icon Hostage Savage Attraction; Hostage : The Christine Maresch Story; Hostage : The Story of Christine Maresch Frank Shields , John Lind , ( dir. Frank Shields ) Australia : Frontier Films , 1983 6060151 1983 single work film/TV crime thriller (taught in 2 units)

'Couched in terms more suited to a sensationalist TV movie, this Australian production unashamedly employs melodramatic symbolism to emphasise the unbelievable truth of its true-life subject. Director Frank Shields secures a full-throttle performance from Ralph Schicha, as the brutal husband who not only subjects wife Kerry Mack to endless domestic violence, but also forces her to participate in the bank raids that sustain his neo-Nazi activities. Although there are references to the Baader-Meinhof group, ultimately the film is clearly less interested in politics than in the tempestuous marriage.'

Source: Radio Times ( (Sighted: 17/6/2013)

form y separately published work icon Razorback Everett de Roche , ( dir. Russell Mulcahy ) Australia : McElroy and McElroy Western Film Productions UAA Films , 1984 Z1867206 1984 single work film/TV horror (taught in 3 units)

A vicious razorback boar terrorises the Australian outback, beginning with the death of a small child, whose grandfather is tried for his murder but acquitted. An American journalist (who holds strong conservationist views) follows the story and is attacked by two locals, who leave her for the boar to kill. Her husband then comes to Australia, determined to seek the boar who killed his wife (and, incidentally, revenge himself on the two locals).

Written by prolific screen-writer Everett De Roche, the film is based on a novel of the same name by American novelist Peter Brennan (a novel that, apparently, bears little resemblance to the film). The first full-length film directed by Russell Mulcahy, Razorback is a bridge between Mulcahy's early work on video clips and his later, more recognisable genre films, beginning (only two years after Razorback) with Highlander.

According to David Carroll at Tabula Rasa, 'Razorback is perhaps the most recognisable 'horror' film from Australia. It has a rising young director in the form of Russell Mulcahy, some reasonably well-known faces, both Australian and American, and a giant pig. It also has a depiction of the Australian outback as, basically, hell'.

Carroll specifies of the way in which the film approaches Australia (as a concept, rather than simply a country) that 'The brothers, their factory, the nightmare landscape and the pig itself, are all presented as a single, coherent malevolence. I have written previously, in more than one place, that the landscape is the defining feature of Australian horror. Razorback extends the idea into expressionism'. He emphasises that 'Of course, all this unnaturalistic splendour could just be attributed to shoddy film-making, but I don't think so. The change in tone and the way things are shot in different locations, such as Sarah's farm and the factory, is very striking, whilst the town itself shifts between the two. There seem to be two different realities, and a slippery border between them.'

Source: Tabula Rasa ( (Sighted: 15/6/2012)

form y separately published work icon Buddies John Dingwall , ( dir. Arch Nicholson ) Australia : JD Productions , 1983 7891437 1983 single work film/TV humour adventure (taught in 2 units)

'In the gem fields of central Queensland, knockabout young miners Mike and Johnny (Colin Friels and Harry Hopkins) borrow heavily to take on a claim-jumping newcomer (Dennis Miller) who has money and muscle. Help arrives from an unlikely source – a city doctor (Norman Kaye) and his family, passing though on holiday, and a lonely pilot (Simon Chilvers), who sells them a plane. They band together against the enemy, but Mike and Johnny argue over strategy and the doctor’s adventurous daughter (Lisa Peers).'

Source: Australian Screen.

form y separately published work icon Two Hands Gregor Jordan , ( dir. Gregor Jordan ) Australia : CML Productions Meridian Films , 1999 Z1827251 1999 single work film/TV humour crime thriller fantasy (taught in 5 units)

Nineteen-year-old Jimmy finds himself accidentally in debt to local mob boss Pando, after failing to deliver $10,000 to a Bondi woman as promised. Through a series of accidents and with the intervention (often indirect) of Jimmy's dead brother (who acts as a guardian angel throughout the film), Jimmy attempts to work his way out of debt and secure both his own future and that of his love interest, Alex.

form y separately published work icon Shame Beverly Blankenship , Michael Brindley , ( dir. Steve Jodrell ) Perth : Barron Entertainment , 1988 Z1813041 1988 single work film/TV (taught in 2 units)

In the vein of stranger-comes-to-town westerns, lawyer Asta Cadell (Deborah Lee Furness) is forced to stop in the small country town of Ginaborak to await parts for her motorcycle. The men of the town act very aggressively. The women cower. Asta is offered a place to stay by Tim Curtis (Tony Barry) a local mechanic and learns of the rape of his daughter Lizze (Simone Buchanan) the previous evening. As Asta befriends Lizze, she is horrified to discover that the men repeatedly gang rape the women of Ginborak.

Source: Reading Room, 'Shame', (Sighted 7/10/11)

form y separately published work icon Jedda Jedda The Uncivilised Charles Chauvel , Elsa Chauvel , ( dir. Charles Chauvel ) Australia : Charles Chauvel Productions , 1955 Z1382736 1955 single work film/TV (taught in 13 units)

'On a lonely cattle station in the Northern Territory, a newly born Aboriginal baby is adopted by a white woman in place of her own child who has died. The child is raised as a white child and forbidden any contact with the Aborigines on the station. Years later, Jedda is drawn by the mysteries of the Aboriginal people but restrained by her upbringing. Eventually she is fascinated by a full-blood Aboriginal, Marbuck, who arrives at the station seeking work and is drawn to his campfire by his song. He takes her away as his captive and returns to his tribal lands, but he is rejected by his tribe for having broken their marriage taboos. Pursued by the men from Jedda's station and haunted by the death wish of his own tribe, Marbuck is driven insane and finally falls, with Jedda, over a cliff.'

(Synopsis from the Australian Film, Television and Radio School website,

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)

y separately published work icon Continuum : Journal of Media and Cultural Studies Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media & Culture Tom O'Regan (editor), Brian Shoesmith (editor), Alec McHoul (editor), Toby Miller (editor), Robyn Quin (editor), David McKie (editor), Alan McKee (editor), Ian Hutchinson (editor), Michael O'Shaughnessy (editor), Hilaire Natt (editor), Greg Noble (editor), Panizza Allmark (editor), Mark Gibson (editor), Z1778186 1987 periodical (64 issues) (taught in 3 units)

Continuum began as a joint initiative between Tom O'Regan at Murdoch University and Brian Shoesmith at Edith Cowan University, Perth. From 1991-5 it was wholly located in the Centre for Research in Culture and Communication at Murdoch University. From mid-1995 it was located in the Department of Media Studies at Edith Cowan University.

Continuum is a thematically based cultural studies journal. The primary focus of the journal is upon screen media, but it also includes publishing, broadcasting and public exhibitionary media such as museums and sites. Journal editors are particularly interested in (1) the history and practice of screen media in Australasia and Asia ; (2) the connections between such media (particularly between film, TV, publishing, visual arts and exhibitionary sites). Each issue is devoted to the exploration of a particular cultural site. Sites have included Indigenous media, television, Asian cinema, media discourse, film style, publishing, photography, radio, 'Screening Cultural Studies', electronic arts in Australia and 'Critical Multiculturalism'. The journal is committed to articulating the energies, fragmentations, and loose coalitions that attend such cultural sites.

(Source : Continuum)

form y separately published work icon Swimming Upstream Anthony Fingleton , Diane Fingleton , ( dir. Russell Mulcahy ) Australia : Crusader Entertainment , 2003 Z1015728 2003 single work film/TV (taught in 2 units)

Film adaptation of Anthony Fingleton's autobiography.

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 Chopper Andrew Dominik , ( dir. Andrew Dominik ) Australia : Pariah Films , 2000 Z1361008 2000 single work film/TV crime (taught in 5 units) Based on Mark 'Chopper' Read's autobiography, Chopper is an exploration of the life and complex psyche of a vicious thug who resorts to violence in an instant but can just as easily be filled with remorse. The narrative begins in 1991 with Read in gaol and then shifts back in time to Pentridge Prison in 1978. It was then that Read established his reputation in jail by stabbing Keithy George, a member of the much-feared criminal gang associated with the Victorian Painters and Dockers Union, and also by getting some fellow inmates to cut off his ears (why Read did this is unclear as he provides at two different reasons in his books). 'Chopper' is later stabbed by his best mate, Jimmy Loughnan, who is attempting to fulfil a contract to kill him. When 'Chopper' is eventually freed in 1985, he moves back home to live with his dad but becomes paranoid, not only because of the large quantities of speed he's consuming but also because he's become a police informant. He shoots a drug dealer called 'The Turk' outside a nightclub in St Kilda, but the police refuse to believe him, and later shoots an old drug-dealing associate, only to drive his victim to hospital. He also later threatens his old mate Jimmy Loughnan with a gun, then apologises. Although Read is eventually arrested for the murder of 'The Turk,' he is acquitted but given a five-year sentence for other offences. The narrative then returns to 1991, by which time Read has sold 250,000 copies of his first book, From the Inside, and become a celebrity.
form y separately published work icon Barry McKenzie Holds His Own Barry Humphries , Bruce Beresford , Melbourne : Sun Books , 1974 Z919232 1974 single work film/TV satire (taught in 2 units)

This sequel to the enormously popular film The Adventures of Barry McKenzie begins where the other ended. While Barry McKenzie and his aunt Dame Edna are flying home to Australia from England, two henchmen of Count von Plasma (a Dracula-type ruler of an isolated and unnamed Eastern European state) mistake Dame Edna for the Queen of the United Kingdom. They kidnap her during a brief stopover in Paris, believing that she will draw tourists to their country. Barry and his mates subsequently mount a rescue.

form y separately published work icon Prime Mover David Caesar , ( dir. David Caesar ) Australia : Porchlight Films , 2008 Z1523097 2008 single work film/TV (taught in 2 units)

'Prime Mover is a diesel-charged love story about ambition, pressure, responsibility and the love shared by a man, a woman and his truck.'

Source: Porchlight Films website,
Sighted: 19/08/2008

form y separately published work icon West Daniel Krige , ( dir. Daniel Krige ) Sydney : West Films , 2007 Z1402615 2007 single work film/TV (taught in 5 units)

'Pete and Jerry are cousins in their early twenties living together on the outskirts of Sydney. Their life consists of dead-end jobs, getting stoned, hanging out at the local pub and talking about girls. Which is fine until Cheryl enters their lives; she's sexy, confident and dangerous. When they both fall in love with her their lives spiral out of control. Dramatic, tense and explosive, WEST explores what happens when you discover how few choices you have in life...'

Source: Screen Australia.

form y separately published work icon Strictly Ballroom Baz Luhrmann , Craig Pearce , ( dir. Baz Luhrmann ) Sydney : M and A Film Corporation , 1992 Z922661 1992 single work film/TV humour (taught in 4 units)

A light-hearted look at the politics and intrigue of competitive ballroom dancing, the storyline focuses on Scott Hastings, who, his ambitious mother Shirley believes, will become champion with his current partner Liz. When Scott tries to introduce his own steps into their routine (against Pan-Pacific Championship rules), Liz leaves him for a rival partner. Without a partner, Scott eventually agrees to dance with Fran, a shy student at the academy run by his mother. When he meets her father and grandmother, Scott leans how to put passion into his movements, especially through the paso doble. In a last ditch effort to see her son become the Pan-Pacific Champion, Shirley convinces him to partner Tina Sparkle, which he reluctantly does. When he finally realises what he has done, he implores Fran to partner him. When they are disqualified from the competition, the audience (led by Scott's father, Barry) gives them a standing ovation and Scott and Fran go on to perform their version of the paso doble.

[Source: Australian Screen]

form y separately published work icon Picnic at Hanging Rock Cliff Green , ( dir. Peter Weir ) Australia Adelaide : McElroy and McElroy , 1975 Z822342 1975 single work film/TV mystery horror (taught in 9 units)

On St Valentine's Day 1900, three schoolgirls and a teacher from an exclusive English-style boarding school go missing at the mysterious Hanging Rock in central Victoria. One of the girls is found alive a week later, but the others are never seen again. As morale within the school begins to disintegrate, the headmistress's increasingly incoherent anger is turned towards one student, leading to tragic consequences. Although the police suspect Michael Fitzhubert, a young English aristocrat, and his manservant Albert, who were in the area at the time the girls disappeared, the mystery is never solved. As Paul Byrnes (Australian Screen) notes, the suggested scenarios range from the 'banal and explicable (a crime of passion) to deeply mystical (a crime of nature).'

[Source: Australian Screen]

form y separately published work icon Looking for Alibrandi Melina Marchetta , ( dir. Kate Woods ) Australia : Robyn Kershaw Productions , 2000 Z1795269 2000 single work film/TV young adult (taught in 2 units)

'Nonna Katia, Christina and Josie are three generations of Italian-Australian women living together in a hothouse atmosphere of love, support...and drama on an operatic scale.'

Source: Screen Australia. (Sighted: 23/10/2012)

form y separately published work icon Metal Skin Geoffrey Wright , ( dir. Geoffrey Wright ) Australia : Daniel Scharf Productions , 1994 Z816279 1994 single work film/TV (taught in 2 units)

A dark portrait of barely sympathetic, disaffected youth, Metal Skin tells the story of four social misfits whose greatest thrill is putting the pedal to the metal and drag racing their problems into oblivion. Against this background of fast cars and empty lives, the four develop a strange and complex relationship. Central to the narrative are Psycho Joe, a petrol-head with limited social skills who lives with his mentally ill father, and the womanising Dazey, whose girlfriend suffers physically and mentally for his hobby. Joe and Dazey first meet at the local supermarket where Joe has just been employed after years of unemployment. Into the mix comes Savina, a Satan-worshipping witch. While interested in Dazey, even though he is 'taken,' Savina finds herself having to fend off Joe's hopeless advances. The nihilism of these young characters, coupled with parental disputes, leads to various tragedies.

Some reviews of Metal Skin suggest that it draws on the tropes of Arthurian legends, linking the film's title to a quotation from John Boorman's 1981 Excalibur.

form y separately published work icon Japanese Story Alison Tilson , Fitzroy : Gecko Films , 2002 (Manuscript version)x401999 Z1498780 2002 single work film/TV (taught in 10 units)

'Sandy, a geologist, finds herself stuck on a field trip to the Pilbara desert with a Japanese man she finds inscrutable, annoying and decidedly arrogant. Hiromitsu's view of her is not much better. Things go from bad to worse when they become stranded in one of the most remote regions on earth. JAPANESE STORY is a journey of change and discovery for its two lead characters.'

Source: Screen Australia.

form y separately published work icon Crocodile Dundee Paul Hogan , Ken Shadie , John Cornell , ( dir. Peter Faiman ) 1985 Sydney : Rimfire Films , 1986 Z1612282 1985 single work film/TV (taught in 6 units)

Mick 'Crocodile' Dundee runs an outback adventure business with his trusted friend and self-proclaimed mentor Walter Reilly. When he survives a crocodile attack, the news travels well beyond the Northern Territory, and a glamorous New York journalist, Sue Charlton, arrives to interview him. He invites her to come with him to the place where he was attacked. When Sue herself is attacked by a croc, Mick saves her. This leads to an invitation for Mick to visit his first ever city: New York City. Mick finds the culture and life in New York City a lot different than his home.

form y separately published work icon Not Quite Hollywood Mark Hartley , ( dir. Mark Hartley ) Australia : Digital Pictures , 2008 Z1523169 2008 single work film/TV (taught in 8 units) Mark Hartley's documentary film coins the term 'Ozploitation' to describe a class of Australian films from the 1970s and 1980s that dealt graphcially with sex and violence, often using stunts and special effects, in a uniquely Australian way.
form y separately published work icon Little Fish Jacquelin Perske , ( dir. Rowan Woods ) Dirty Films Porchlight Films , 2005 Z1221009 2005 single work film/TV crime (taught in 5 units)

'How do you learn to love again when the pain of the past won't let you go? Tracy Heart has set herself the humble goal of owning her own business. The return of her ex-boyfriend Jonny, the criminal aspirations of her brother Ray and the emotional draw of ex-footy star Lionel create friction for Tracy, and her bond of trust with her mother Janelle is tested. A story about families. About lies. And about learning to love again.'

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

form y separately published work icon The Getting Of Wisdom Eleanor Witcombe , ( dir. Bruce Beresford ) Australia : Southern Cross Films , 1978 Z1446682 1978 single work film/TV (taught in 2 units)

In the early 1900s, the spirited and talented Laura Tweedle Ramsbotham arrives at an exclusive Melbourne ladies' college, only to be greeted with jeers and treated as a country bumpkin. Although she is defiant towards her peers, the pressure almost defeats her. She soon learns, however, to be as ruthless as the other girls. Caught out after inventing an illicit liaison with the handsome new minister, she becomes a pariah until she is taken under the wing of an older girl, the elegant and kindly Evelyn Suitor. Laura subsequently falls in love with Evelyn, causing the latter to leave the school in order to escape Laura's attentions. Laura eventually completes her schooling, winning a two-year music scholarship to study piano.

Source: Australian Screen.

form y separately published work icon Samson and Delilah Warwick Thornton , ( dir. Warwick Thornton ) Scarlett Pictures CAAMA Productions , 2009 Z1561915 2009 single work film/TV (taught in 9 units)

'Samson and Delilah tells the story of two Aboriginal teenagers in a remote community. They live in a sparse environment but one that absorbs all manner of cultural influences, where dot painting and country music exist side by side. Samson gets through his days by sniffing, while Delilah is the caregiver for her nana before taking a moment for herself to listen to Latino music. Their journey ranges across many of the most urgent issues concerning Indigenous people in Australia, homelessness, poverty, domestic violence and substance abuse, but it does so with tenderness, dignity, and even humour.'

Source: Adelaide Film Festival website, Sighted: 23/02/2009

form y separately published work icon Shine Jan Sardi , ( dir. Scott Hicks ) 1996 Australia : Momentum Films , 1996 Z128198 1996 single work film/TV (taught in 3 units)

Shine is the true story of David Helfgott, a brilliant pianist whose musical gift is nearly compromised by the emotional strain of his personal life. A child prodigy whose interpretive genius promised a brilliant career as a concert pianist, David grew up under the tyrannical parenting of his father. Their turbulent relationship almost destroys David's promise and threatens his fragile mental balance. When an unlikely romance with a remarkable woman brings stability to David's chaotic world, he returns to concert performance in triumph. Freed from the difficult legacy of his father's influence, his musical talent prevails.

(Source: Libraries Australia)

form y separately published work icon They're a Weird Mob Sono Strana Gente Richard Imrie , ( dir. Michael Powell ) United Kingdom (UK) Australia : Williamson-Powell International , 1966 Z553582 1966 single work film/TV humour (taught in 6 units)

Italian sports journalist Nino Culotta is lured to Sydney during the mid-1960s to work for his brother's new magazine for migrant Italians. When he arrives in the country, however, Nino finds out that there is no magazine and that his brother has taken off with the investors' cash. Left in the lurch is his brother's business partner, Kay Kelly. Nino vows to pay off his brother's debt and gets a job as a builder's labourer. In doing so, he learns how to talk, act, and drink like an Australian male. His numerous attempts to woo Kay are repeatedly rebuffed with humorous results, but in the end she falls in love with him. Nino's introduction to the country and its culture finds him bemused but ultimately confident that he has a future here.

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image suggests this film is 'very much a product of the assimilationist view dominating Australian immigration policy at the time'.

form y separately published work icon Wolf Creek Greg McLean , ( dir. Greg McLean ) Australia : Roadshow Entertainment , 2005 Z1561409 2005 single work film/TV horror thriller (taught in 5 units)

Inspired in part by some unsolved murders in the Australian outback, and by the gruesome backpacker murders committed by Ivan Milat in NSW during the late 1980s/early 1990s, Wolf Creek tells the story of three young backpackers, Ben Mitchell, an Australian, and Liz Hunter and Kristy Earl, both English. Although the girls don't know Ben all that well, he and Liz fancy each other. After buying a car in Broome, situated in the far north coast of Western Australia, the trio head east with the intention of driving across the top end to Cairns (Queensland). At the end of their first day in the desert, their car breaks down at a deserted tourist site - the large crater of a meteorite. Later that night a truck arrives, driven by a real outback character, Mick Taylor. He tows them to his isolated camp at an abandoned mine site, promising to fix their car. All three tourists fall asleep after Mick drugs them. When Liz wakes up, she is bound and gagged and her friends are missing and the nightmare begins.

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.


Australian Screen addresses the wide-ranging output of Australian feature films and explores the varied approaches to studying Australian film as a national cinema. It does this through a program of lectureworkshops, screenings, and readings.






Supplementary Texts

Collins, Felicity and Davis, Therese (2004) Australian Cinema After Mabo. Cambridge University Press ISBN 0 521 54256 1. An Ebook copy of this text is also available to students via the library catalogue.

O'Regan, Tom (1996) Australian National Cinema. London: Routledge ISBN 0-415-05731-0 An Ebook copy of this text is also available to students via the library catalogue.

Other Details

Offered in: 2009
Current Campus: Nathan
Levels: Undergraduate