The category of Australian Gothic covers a broad range
of film texts, with the first representatives appearing in the early 1970s at the same time
as the ‘Ocker’ comedies. The films given this label share a variety of common
characteristics, but the best known examples ( The Last Wave (Peter Weir, 1977), the
Mad Max trilogy (Dr George Miller, 1979/1981/1985). Shame (Steve Jodrell,
1987)) illustrate the variations in setting, characterisation and mode that the films essay. The environments chosen
This book offers introductory readings of some of the well-known and less well-known feature productions coming out of Australia since the revival in the national film industry at the end of the 1960s. The interpretations of the texts and the careers of their makers are considered in relation to the emergence of an indigenous film culture and the construction of national identity. The majority of the films examined in the book have had theatrical or video releases in the UK. The independent development of several indigenous film genres has been an important feature of recent production, and helped to punctuate and bracket the streams of feature production that have evolved since 1970. These Australian genres have been identified and evaluated (the Australian Gothic, the period film, the male ensemble film) and are worthy of consideration both in their own right and in their intersection with other conventionalised forms. These include science fiction, fantasy and horror in comparison with the Gothic, the heritage film and literary adaptation in connection with the period film, and the war film and rite of passage in relation to the male ensemble. More recently, an aesthetic and thematic trend has emerged in the examples of Strictly Ballroom, The Adventures of Priscilla, and Muriel's Wedding, which foregrounds elements of the camp, the kitsch and the retrospective idolisation of 1970s Glamour. Such chronological, stylistic and thematic groupings are important in the interpretation of national filmmaking.
criticism within a national cinema’s ‘explanation of the structure of
society’. With this kind of approach, the critical exercise might resemble a catalogue
of the national cinema’s diverse flora and fauna, and not a partial, generalised and
symbolic ‘map’ of the territory which has spawned them.
The prehistory of Australian
The ideal of a national cinema, and the critical
methods mobilised in its appreciation, are used to categorise the proliferating film
industries which distinguish themselves culturally
In the beginning (the late 1960s) when the desire for
an Australian cinema began to be voiced actively, the project was basically anti-cultural
imperialist. To be sure, some of the groups voicing antiimperialist sentiments were doing so
opportunistically, with secret dreams of a ‘Hollywood-south’: but this at least
was the argument which was supposed to justify government subsidisation. The whole project
then surely included the notion of a cinema capable of challenging existing film conventions,
The male ensemble film, in its first phase up to
Breaker Morant (1980), is also strongly influenced by the posture of the ocker;
blunt, loud, hedonistic and conservative in the populist manner. Its working class or lower
middle-class male ligure is not an appeal for class solidarity, but a gesture towards the
classless common man as last bastion of ‘real’ Australian virtues and vices
… the assertive use of vernacular is empowered by the feeling it is breaking with old
The quota quirky
There are only one or two, at most live, Australian
feature films in any one year that a wide cross section of the public sees and that get taken
up in subsidiary general public circulation – on radio, on television and in newspaper
features. In 1992, it was Strictly Ballroom and Romper Stomper ; in 1994, it was
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, The Sum of Us, Muriel’s Wedding.
Sirens and Bad Boy Hubby . Consequently these come to represent the Australian
commonly identified with the ocker films: they were tasteful and lyrical rather than brash and iconoclastic;
reflective and artistic rather than physical and populist. While these attributes were just
as misleading as those they replaced, they did create a ‘brand name’ for
Australian films, without which there was no chance of being marketed at all. 1
3 Picnic at Hanging Rock
Graeme Turner’s judgement of the place and
significance of the period films produced during the
The aim of this paper is to investigate the nature of the postcolonial Gothic through a focus on Black Australian literature (Plains of Promise by Alexis Wright and Mudrooroo‘s tetralogy, Master of the Ghost Dreaming, The Undying, Underground and The Promised Land). This paper focuses on the process of repossession of the European Gothic intertext and in particular canonical texts like Stoker‘s Dracula, which allows Mudrooroo to revive the subversive potential of the Gothic genre and use it to debunk the colonial discourse. It analyses the workings of the postcolonial Gothic and shows that instead of producing hybrid monsters through intertextual replays, Mudrooroo‘s and Alexis Wright‘s texts seem almost naturally Gothic, as if there was a certain Gothicism inherent in the postcolonial experience.
adaptation on the grounds that it is an Australian rather than an American version that lifts most of the lines out of the Shelley source text, and resembles a dramatised reading rather than an adaptation planned for radio drama performance.
3 Moraweck usually consulted with producer William Spier as well as Elliott about the kind of music required, immediately before each episode of Suspense! was broadcast. The smallest details were calculated for dramatic effect (Dunning 647).
4 Directed by William Spier and
rich in timber and iron ore, gold and silver, and with the establishment of economically and territorially ambitious nation-states in need of these natural resources, efforts were made to colonise the region and to establish firm borders between Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia so that these nations could divide these resources between themselves. Colonisation of Sápmi was at times violent, but still far from the genocide that marked European colonisation of North or South America, Australia or Africa. However, as in these parts of the world, it was accompanied