The category of AustralianGothic 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.
revival re-emphasises several key issues
already acknowledged in relation to the Ocker comedies and the AustralianGothic. Commercial
and artistic aspirations are again seen to be in conflict both with each other and with the
notion of a filmic national identity. The locally popular and commercially successful Ocker
films had represented a double-edged sword as the first feature films to appear, since they
generated a financial return at the expense of a reputable and respectable national image.
The acceptance (if not the
Finding meaning and identity in the rural Australian landscape
barren landscape bereft of cultural history) but by
culture . (Collins, 1999 : 23)
Landscape and recrimination
In the often hybridised generic
territory referred to as the AustralianGothic, the landscape is a key
element in the exploration of cultural anxieties arising from colonial
experience. The questioning of the validity and durability
crucible for the stoical and self-reliant aspects of national character which he incarnates.
The AFC genre institutionalises Australian-ness in relation to romantic pastoral ideals (as
in The Man from Snowy River ), or an uncomplicated distillation of colonial, cultural
heritage. The AustralianGothic also defines Australian characteristics in relation to the
features of the natural, rural landscape, but perceives the same environmental influences as
unremittingly negative (as in Wake in Fright, Shame , and The
Æternus and the Ensemble of Shadows’. www.soporaeternus.de/Info.html . Accessed 18 August 2011.
American Goth. http://americangoth.com/.
Accessed 25 September 2011.
Posting 2 July 2011. www.gothic.org.au/Brisbane/viewthreat.php?tid54426&page53 .
Accessed 24 August 2011.
perceptions of Australianness at home and overseas in the years following the 1988
Bicentennial. Many of the films produced in the 1990s, including those not financed by the
AFFC, are derived from generic bases, but these conventionalised forms are chosen to be
breached as often as observed. In developing, transforming or hybridising existing generic
forms (the AustralianGothic and the rite of passage, and the American road movie and
musical), recent Australian films have constructed a new image for the industry and the
genres is a major trend within the Australian revival.
Additionally, the independent development of several indigenous film genres has been an
important feature of recent production, and has helped to punctuate and bracket the streams
of feature production that have evolved since 1970. These Australian genres have been
identified and evaluated (the AustralianGothic, the period film, the male ensemble film 32 ) and are worthy of consideration both in
their own right and in their intersection with other conventionalised forms (science