Australian Culture versus Aspects of Urbanizations
. In the film making industry, films produced are a cultural presentation of the people in that particular state. In the Australian Film Industry, the cultural representation is quite evident. It is based in story telling about soldiers, game rangers, battlers and warriors. With modernization at its peak, there are various characters who are also included, whom are the migrants, sport champions and careers legends. Owing to the fact that the films usually depict an iconographic element, one cannot help but notice the correlation of the films to the Australian culture. The location of the Australian movies setting is equally important in representing the cultural heritage. They illustrate the cultural identity of the Australian people despite the statistics that depict that most of them live in the urban areas. Analysis of various movie review articles originating in Australia will outline the various cultural elements that stand out thus representing the cultural identity of these people as well as the situation in the film industry as regards to portraying the Australian Culture. While most Australians live in urban areas, Australian cinema tends to present the Outback as an inherent part of Australian national identity and a cultural symbol that embodies the nation’s history and beliefs.
According to Andrew Zielinski, the Outback has played an important part in the creation of background in Australian films. As said, this has been over the last 200 hundred years since the film industry started. It has been reconstructed to represent good or evil regions. As described by the writer, the Outback can represent Hell or Eden depending on the script and theme of the film (Bingham, 56). The creation of myths in the Australian culture traces their origins to the Outback as well as the bush, which are the major locations, used in movie sets. The myths having being popularized created the belief that the nations values and culture were shaped in the Outback. As depicted in the film Sweetie, the Australian Dream illustrated by the Suburban Culture set in the Outback is part of its identity. The movie delves into the life of Kay, a well-educated banker who hides beneath the façade of a serial monogamist but on the contrary is a very superstitious individual(Sweetie, 1989). This piece of information clearly illustrates why most of the movies in the past were set in this region as part of creating the feel of cultural identity. This was because the Outback signified the birthplace of the nation’s culture and core values enabling the citizens to relate with the film in an authentic manner. The author also mentions there are several reasons as to why the Outback has been use in the film making industry. First, it is used by the country to represent the history of the society to the natives instead of just a simple filmsetting.
The film analysis by the Myke Bartlett concerning the Shaggy Dog Stories clearly brings out the utilization of the Outback as both a filmsetting and a cultural symbol with is part of the Australian Culture. The first story about the red dog is set in the Outback. The story as summarized by Myke is about a Yankee and a red dog. It is told as narration by the pub owner, Jack who is amazed by the fact that some of the locals have never heard of the story of the red dog and its master (Red Dog. 2011). The pub is located within the Outback as well as the storyline of the red dog. The technique utilized is a story within a story. The theme of the story is to bring out several aspects about the Australian culture. The first aspect is story telling. Australian culture embodies story telling as a method through which the national heritage is passed down to generations despite the authenticity or not. Story telling is significant as it is use to glorify the legendary persons in the history of the nation. In this story, the red dog plays the role of a faithful pet to its owner as they go about their lives in the town known as Dampier (Red Dog. 2011). Another theme created is egalitarianism where the red dog is embraced by the members in the community as they name him the common dog. He is however shunned by Mrs. Cribbage who fails miserably in driving the dog out of the town. The third aspect outlined is Mateship (Red Dog. 2011). This is illustrated when John, the leading star in the film dies in a motor accident. Thus, character and the red dog are illustrated as master and pet. The role of illustrating this theme is taken by the red dog that searches for his master after his death displaying the sense of loyalty and friendship. The aforementioned aspects are the core values inculcated in the Australian culture and its people. They represent their valued beliefs. The fact that they are displayed in a township set in the Outback mirrors the town as the nation and the red necks as the citizens and outback representing the land in general, which the values are instilled and followed.
Analysis of the movie Picnic at the Hanging Rock reveals it is amongst those filmed in the Outback. The films are about girls from the Appleyard College who go to spend their valentines day at the hanging Rock, a monolithic volcanic solidified eruption, found in the Outback. It gives the film a surreal appeal, which creates a heavenly feel. The theme created in this film is the mystical nature of the Hanging Rock and in a more expansive outlook, the Outback itself (Picnic at Hanging Rock 1975). The girls who visit the rock are four but only one manages to come out of the rock alive. The whereabouts of the three girls remains unsolved. The whole film is based on a previously written book. The mystic nature of how the girls are said to have disappeared exemplifies the basic art of storytelling, which as discussed earlier forms part of the Australian history. The setting of the film within the outback shows that the film makers wanted the viewers to identify with the movie by the presence of the hanging rock which is a tourism attraction and part of the natural heritage. Thus enforcing the point the outback is an important cultural symbol to the Australian people.
The aforementioned films were set in the 1990’s and exuded the importance of the Outback as the backdrop of the story lines, however, in the modern day, there are several changes which have taken place. The main important element to note is that the film industry has undergone tremendous change in terms of urbanization. The sense of national identity has slowly faded as the industry revolutionizes. A number of films have opened the idea of urbanizing the film industry thus veering away from the use of nature scenic places to more urban areas. An instance of such a film is the Puberty Blues that was directed by Bruce Beresford in the year 1981. The main issue illustrated in the film is suggested by its name. It focuses on bringing out the social problems in the educational system and way it has influenced the type of youth present in the state (Puberty Blues 1981). The aspect greatly concentrated on the politicization of the youth (Bingham 78). The days where the national films exuded the feel of national identity as expressed by Turner are long gone giving rise it to era whereby the themes expressed deal with issues arising from urbanization(Bingham 78). As expressed by Elizabeth Jacka, the national cinema should focus on globalization more than it should in displaying national identity, which she termed as anachronistic in nature (Clancy 54).
In conclusion, the Outback played an important role in the era where national identity was important in the film industry. Presenting itself as a singular entity unmatched in portraying Australian culture, it was symbol of national identity. The globalization and modernization have however the center as the importance of presenting national identity being viewed as a lesser important concern.
Bingham, Jane. Living In the Australia Outback. Oxford: Raintree, 2008. Print.
Clancy, Laurie. Culture and Customs of Australia. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2004. Print.
Picnic at Hanging Rock. Dir. Peter Weir. Perf. Rachel Roberts, Dominic Guard, Helen Morse and Jacki Weaver. Picnic Productions. 1975. Film.
Puberty Blues. Dir. Bruce Beresford. Perf. Nell Schofield, Jad Capelja and Geoff Rhoe. Australian Film Commission, 1981. Film.
Red Dog. Dir. Kriv Stenders. Perf. Koko, Josh Lucas, Rachael Taylor and John Batchelor. 2011. Film.
Simpson, Catherine. “Suburban Subversions: Women’s Negotiation of Suburban Space in Australian Cinema.” Metro Magazine. Apr. 2006. Print.
Stevenson, Robin. Outback. Custer, WA: Orca Book Publishers, 2013. Internet Resource.
Sweetie. Dir. Jane Campion. Perf. Genevieve Lemon, Karen Colston, Tom Lycos, John Darling. 1989. Film.
Turner, Graeme. “Whatever Happened To National Identity? Film And Nations In The 1990’s.” Metro Magazine. Mar. 2008. Print.
Van, Driesum R. Outback Australia. Footscray, Vic: Lonely Planet, 2002. Print.