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Expressive Cultures : Film (CORE-UA 9750)
Semester 1 / 2014


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 Balibo David Williamson , Robert Connolly , ( dir. Robert Connolly ) Australia : 2008 Z1521564 2008 single work film/TV mystery thriller crime (taught in 2 units)

'Jose Ramos Horta, twenty-five years old in 1975, and a member of the Fretilin Government, lures Darwin-based Australian journalist Roger East to East Timor to investigate the disappearance of the 'Balibo Five' - journalists Greg Shackleton, Gary Cunningham and Tony Stewart (Ch9) and from their rival network Brian Peters and Malcolm Rennie (Ch7).

On the morning of October 16, all five men, though identifying themselves as journalists from Australia, are killed in cold blood by the invading Indonesian troops, and their bodies burnt. East does not accept the official story that soon emerges, that the men were killed in cross-fire. Horta and East travel from Dili to Balibo, now occupied during the daytime by Indonesian forces, to try and uncover the truth of the journalists' death.

Back in Dili, East decides to stay on while other journalists are evacuated, in the knowledge that Indonesian forces will soon land in the capital. The very next day Indonesian paratroopers and commandos land from the sea and immediately capture East who is reporting the invasion. Defiant to the end, East is executed the next day on the Dili wharf by an Indonesian execution squad.' Source: (Sighted 12/08/2008).

form y separately published work icon Ten Canoes Rolf De Heer , ( dir. Rolf De Heer ) Australia : Fandango Australia Vertigo Productions , 2006 Z1262398 2006 single work film/TV (taught in 11 units)

A story within a story and overlaid with narration, Ten Canoes takes place in two periods in the past. The first story, filmed in black-and-white as a reference to the 1930s ethnographic photography of Donald Thompson, concerns a young man called Dayindi who takes part in his first hunt for goose eggs. During the course of several trips to hunt, gather and build a bark canoe, his older brother Minygululu tells him a story about their ancestors and the old laws. The story is also about a young man who had no wife but who coveted one of his brother's wives, and also of the stranger who disrupted the harmony of their lives. It is cautionary tale because Minygululu is aware that Dayinidi desires his young and pretty third wife.

The second story (shot in colour) is set much further back in time. Yeeralparil is a young man who desires the third wife of his older brother Ridjimiraril. When Ridjimiraril's second wife disappears, he suspects a man from another tribe has been seen near the camp. After he spears the stranger he discovers that he was wrong. Knowing that he must face the man's relatives he chooses Yeeralparil to accompany him during the ritual payback. When Ridjimiraril dies from his wounds the tribe's traditions decree that Yeeralparil must inherit his brother's wives. The burden of these responsibilities, however, is more than the young man expects.

form y separately published work icon Beneath Clouds Ivan Sen , ( dir. Ivan Sen ) Sydney : Autumn Films , 2001 Z1440560 2001 single work film/TV (taught in 12 units) Blue eyed, fair skinned Lena is the daughter of an Aboriginal mother, living in a small country town. She longs for the romantic ideal of her absent father and his Irish heritage. When her home life feels set to implode, she hits the road with little money, a backpack and a photo of her dad. When Lena misses her bus to Sydney, she meets up with Vaughn, an Aboriginal teenager who has run away from a minimum-security prison in the desperate hope of reaching his ill mother. Vaughn is hardened by his anger at the world. Initially the two reluctant travelling companions are suspicious and wary of each other, but their journey, mostly by foot and the odd lift, builds an understanding between them. -- Libraries Australia
form y separately published work icon The Tracker Rolf De Heer , ( dir. Rolf De Heer ) Australia : Vertigo Productions , 2002 Z1036534 2002 single work film/TV (taught in 4 units)

'A set of mountain ranges in the outback, 1922 ... horseback country, and the Fanatic leads the two other white men, the Follower and the Philosopher, and the Tracker, in the pursuit of the Fugitive. Through massacre and murder the hunt continues, until the clear-cut notions of truth and justice are subverted and the questions become not will the Fugitive be caught, but what is black and what is white and who is leading whom?'

Source: Screen Australia.

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 Tracks Robyn Davidson , Marion Nelson , ( dir. John Curran ) Australia : See Saw Films , 2013 Z1910218 2013 single work film/TV (taught in 2 units) 'The inspirational true story of Robyn Davidson's solo camel trek through the harsh centre of Australia, aided only by her faithful canine companion Diggity and the National Geographic photographer who chronicled this epic modern adventure.' (Source: Screen Australia website)
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 The Story of the Kelly Gang Frank Tait , John Tait , ( dir. Charles Tait ) Australia : Johnson and Gibson J. and N. Tait , 1906 Z1835073 1906 single work film/TV (taught in 2 units)

'The picture is an exceedingly interesting one right from the opening scene, where Constable Fitzpatrick arrives with a warrant for the arrest of Dan Kelly, then to the police camp, which is captured by the Kellys, the sticking-up of Younghusband's station, robbing the bank at Euroa, destroying the railway line, and finally to the capture of Ned Kelly in his suit of armour.'

[Source: 'The Story of the Kelly Gang', The Register, 29 December 1906, p.4.]

form y separately published work icon Wake in Fright Outback Evan Jones , ( dir. Ted Kotcheff ) 1971 Australia United States of America (USA) : Group W Films NLT Productions , 1971 Z912048 1971 single work film/TV horror (taught in 7 units)

John Grant, a young Englishman, teaches in Tiboonda, a tiny railway junction on the far western plains of New South Wales. He sets off to spend his summer vacation in Sydney but doesn't make it beyond Bundanyabba, a nearby mining town known as 'the Yabba'. Stranded in town after losing all his money in a two-up game, he finds himself engulfed by the Yabba's claustrophobic, nightmarish, beer-fuelled stupor, an atmosphere compounded of repressed sexuality, squalid violence, and the sinister mateship of the locals. After being sexually assaulted by the town's alcoholic doctor, he attempts to hitchhike out of the town but is brought back by a truckie. In anger, he tries to shoot the doctor but ends up only shooting himself. After discharging himself from the hospital, Grant takes the train back to Tiboonda, resigned to another year of teaching.

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 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.

Film: A Critical Introduction - Pramaggiore, Maria and Tom Wallis
y separately published work icon Wake in Fright Kenneth Cook , London : Michael Joseph , 1961 Z560904 1961 single work novel (taught in 9 units)

Wake in Fright is the harrowing story of a young schoolteacher, John Grant, who leaves his isolated outback school to go on holidays to Sydney (and civilization). Things start to go horribly wrong, however, when stays overnight in a rough outback mining town called Bundanyabba. After a drink fuelled night, in which he loses all his momey, Grant finds himself both broke and stuck in the town with means of escape. He subsequently descends into a cycle of hangovers, fumbling sexual encounters, and increasing self-loathing as he becomes more and more immersed in the grotesque and surreal nightmare that is 'the Yabba.'

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.

y separately published work icon Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence Doris Pilkington Garimara , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 1996 Z126936 1996 single work biography (taught in 26 units)

'The film Rabbit-Proof Fence is based on this true account of Doris Nugi Garimara Pilkington's mother Molly, who as a young girl led her two sisters on an extraordinary 1,600 kilometre walk home. Under Western Australia's invidious removal policy of the 1930s, the girls were taken from their Aboriginal family at Jigalong on the edge of the Little Sandy Desert, and transported halfway across the state to the Native Settlement at Moore River, north of Perth...

The three girls - aged 8, 11 and 14 - managed to escape from the settlement's repressive conditions and brutal treatment. Barefoot without provisions or maps, they set out to find the rabbit-proof fence, knowing it passed near their home in the north. Tracked by native police and search planes, they hid in terror, surviving on bush tucker, desperate to return to the world they knew.

The journey to freedom - longer than many of the legendary walks of [the Australian nation's] explorer heroes... told from family recollections, letters between the authorities and the Aboriginal Protector, and ... newspaper reports of the runaway children.' Source: Publisher's blurb


How has Australian cinema engaged with significant and often contested historical, political and cultural events in the nation’s past? The films in this course offer critical perspectives on the history of colonisation in Australia; the legacies of the Stolen Generations; the controversies surrounding Australia’s role in World War One and the Vietnam War; as well as Australia’s relationships with its Pacific Asian neighbours. We will focus on films that have marked significant shifts in public consciousness about the past such as Gallipoli (1981), Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) and Balibo (2009). We will also draw on films that have employed innovative narrative and aesthetic strategies for exploring the relationship between the past and the present such as Two Laws (1982) and The Tracker (2002). Throughout the course, students will develop their understanding of the basic methods and concepts of cinema studies. In particular, students will develop a critical vocabulary for analysing how filmmakers have approached the use of memory, testimony, re-enactment, researched detail, allegory and archives across a diverse range of examples. This includes restorations, revivals and re-imaginings of Australian cinema history such as the controversial restoration of Wake in Fright (1971) as an Australian classic; the reconstruction of Australia’s first feature film, The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906); and the revived interest in Ozploitation after the release of Not Quite Hollywood (2008).