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.
This chapter argues that all Terry Gilliam's films are exercises in hybrid textuality, but the dystopian form taken up in Brazil makes this his most overtly political work. Brazil initially is replete with utopian dreams, but as its protagonist Sam Lowry gains a better understanding of the dystopian reality, his dreams increasingly take on the dystopian tenor of that environment. Lowry's fantasies are critically analysed in terms of their narcissism and escapism, but even if we judge these negatively, he at least inhabits a more stimulating world than those around him. In Munchausen, by constructing the framework of the theatre around the tales themselves, Gilliam and Charles McKeown create a form of transitional space between the worlds of fantasy and reality. The Theatre Royal provides a space where fantasy can be presented, while serving as a refuge from the murderous reality of the besieged town that surrounds the audience.
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. The book provides critical insights into specific problems and topics and encourages readers to consider the breadth of, and different emphases within, Television Studies. The issues of whether there is more or less 'quality television' than there was, and the standards of taste and decency in television, have mostly been left to popular and journalistic opinion. The book highlights that the exploration of generic instability and stakes of genre as a delimiting and categorising force will continue to develop in work on the diverse television drama forms as contemporary urban drama, crime drama and the literary adaptation. It also addresses examples of television which are either widely known, still being broadcast or available through commercial or library sources in videotape form.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book provides resources for critical thinking about key aspects of television drama in Britain since 1960, including institutional, textual, cultural and audience-centred modes of study. Helen Wheatley's analysis of Rebecca, The Wyvern Mystery and The Woman in White distinguishes the gendered concerns of the Gothic as a mode that encompasses literary and cinematic realisations of narratives that reflect on the politics of domesticity. The book emphasises the relationships between the television drama text and its contexts of production and viewing. It investigates how the programme's production and realisation negotiated the possibilities that television offered for realising both conventional 'pulp fiction' monster stories and the aspirational claims for 'serious' speculative and educational drama in science fiction.
National identity and the spirit of subaltern vengeance in Nakata Hideo’s Ringu and Gore Verbinski’s The Ring
This chapter discusses Gore Verbinski's 2002 film The Ring, a remake of Nakata Hideo's Ringu, which was itself an adaptation of Suzuki Koji's 1991 novel The Ring. Both Ringu and The Ring are ideally positioned to explore the ideological function of models of national identity promulgated by the media in Japanese and US society internalised by members of each. These were often in direct contradiction of the realities of national history or contemporary social and cultural practices. Sasaki Sadako, as spirit of vengeance, asserts her own right to survive, and to reproduce, by becoming both mother and father to a new breed of infected individuals. Her meta-hybridity echoes in the book's inference that her father was not in fact human but a water spirit summoned by the real-life ascetic En no Ozunu.
In The Brothers Grimm, Terry Gilliam is attracted to the darker sense of the fairy tale, understanding it as a suitable genre for mature children and open-minded adults. Bob McCabe had already produced Dark Knights and Holy Fools, a critical survey of Gilliam's films up to Fear and Loathing, and would put together The Pythons Autobiography By The Pythons. The book that came from Gilliam's request, Dreams and Nightmares: Terry Gilliam, The Brothers Grimm, and Other Cautionary Tales of Hollywood, offers a sobering account of the tribulations Gilliam underwent in making The Brothers Grimm. Tideland takes Gilliam into new territory, the world of Gothic horror, and he claimed that in Tideland, Alice in Wonderland meets Psycho. There are elements of the Gothic in The Brothers Grimm, but that film's comic undertones relieve the tension, which builds menacingly in Tideland.
This chapter explores a few of the female Gothic dramas in an attempt to define the particular ways in which narratives of domestic fear and entrapment appear on television. It outlines the ways in which the heroine negotiates her position within the domestic space of the Gothic narrative. The chapter focuses on a topographical analysis of the mise-en-scene of female Gothic fiction on television, and identifies the connection between text and domestic viewer. The television adaptation of Northanger Abbey plays upon the representation of Cathy as a diegetic stand-in for the female Gothic reader-viewer by fully visualising extracts from her reading matter through imagined point-of-view sequences at key moments in the narrative. The Wyvern Mystery alters the generic approach to the heritage location to express the distinct uneasiness attached to domestic spaces within the female Gothic narrative.