Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Long Road Home

As I sit here trying to finish my review for upcoming Aussie film Samson and Delilah - hint: it's very excellent - something quite amusing struck me. Australia, as an industry, isn't exactly bristling with films about our indigenous people and their culture. I'm not entirely sure why since whenever there is one it seems to do quite well for itself. Think Rabbit-Proof Fence and Ten Canoes. Both critical and commercial champions.

There is one common link between almost all the films about Aboriginal people and it is that of the long journey. Going back to Nicolas Roeg's 1971 film Walkabout and Fred Schepisi's The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith from 1978, two of the earliest films to put a central focus on Aboriginal culture and you get two of the earliest examples.

Then there are the aforementioned Rabbit-Proof Fence by Phillip Noyce, which follows three half-caste Aboriginal girls as they try to walk 2400km from their detainment camp to their home community, and Ten Canoes, which centres its entire structure around a journey. Then there's Iven Sen's Beneath Clouds about two Aboriginal teenagers who travel across country to escape all sorts of sorry stuff. Rolf de Heer's The Tracker speaks for itself, really, and even Baz Luhrmann's Australia had a hard slog of a journey at the centre of it and it's Aboriginal characters. And then there is Samson and Delilah that follows the two title characters as they runaway from their village and have tragedy befall them.

I'm not going to begin to give reasons as to why other than the premise of "walkabout" is so very important to that culture, but isn't it just an interesting little fact anyway? Aboriginal characters like to go on journeys, white suburbanites like to inject heroin - that's the Australian film industry in a nutshell. :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Kamikaze Camel,

Liked your post. And I can add "Jedda" "Backroads" to your pro walk argument. But funny as the observation is it ain't exactly true. Just from the top of my head aboriginal films: "Radiance", "One night the moon", "The Last Wave", "Yogulu Boy" and "Night Cries" don't fit into this mould.

On the flipside, are there any films that are not about white suburbanites liking to inject heroin? Here I had to rack my mind. I was going to say "Happy feet" but then I had to think again. Can't think of one. :)