The Emergence of the South Korean Blockbuster through Globalisation: Creating Films for an International Market for Profit

In 1999 the film Shiri (Je-kyu Kang) broke records in South Korea both as the largest budget and highest grossing film. This Hollywood-style film began a surge in Korean made films and filmmakers to find success locally and internationally, such as, Oldboy (Chan-wook Park 2003), Train to Busan (Sang-ho Yeon 2016) and Okja (Joon-ho Bong 2017). Shiri and the films that came after it rely on our global interconnectedness to exist in their style and with success locally and internationally, thus forming the Korean blockbusters popular now. Shiri could not have been made without the government forming a globalisation policy that demanded chaebols and other domestic companies to invest in the local film industry, as well as changes to censorship of the media. The changes made intend to create profit by internationalising Korean film and leveraging the international film festival market to sell Korean films and stories. This strategy results in Korean films, especially those provided big budgets, being designed to appeal cross-culturally keeping the local Korean film industry alive and profitable. To create an internationally appealing Korean film, filmmakers create Hollywood blockbuster style films and use Asian cinematic techniques and styles to add to their Korean stories that form a cultural hybridity within Korean cinema. While cultural diversity is maintaining Korean cinema so far, there are concerns about constantly increasing production costs and the quality of films exported from Korea as commercialism becomes more important than the art of cinema. The South Korean government have transformed culture into a profitable industry in an era where people around the world are more connected than ever before.

South Korea has a troubled history of censorship and media oppression, this naturally impacted filmmakers and their ability to tell certain stories without fear of punishment. Despite this, Korea has a long history of filmmaking starting with their first feature film Plighted Love Under the Moon (Yun Baek-nam 1923) while still oppressed by the Japanese; leading to arguably the most significant film of the time Arirang (Na Un-kyu 1926). The film contained hidden political messages and inspired other filmmakers to make films that resisted the power Japan held over Korea, however, Japanese censorship hindered the development of Korean cinema. Korea eventually became a republic (currently in its sixth republic) where throughout its history oppression of citizens and strict control over media, including art, became the status quo. During the Young-Sam Kim administration the government shifted its policy on the media and subsequently the film sector, to turn their culture industry into a profitable venture (Han 2011). This leap towards globalisation was intended to stimulate economic growth in Korea, which it did successfully, and was a major factor in the beginning of the Korean Wave (Hallyu). The changes in government policy and their support of the film industry led to the creation of Shiri, which was partially funded by Samsung, a film heavily influenced by 1980s Hollywood action blockbusters, about the reunification of North and South Korea. In the past, such a controversial subject would never be allowed especially with the somewhat sympathetic portrayal of North Koreans:

Less than a decade ago, South Korea was an inhospitable environment for its filmmakers. The challenge of making movies was daunting: limited resources, inflexible bureaucracy, and frequent government censorship, all of which discouraged a large number of filmmakers from pursuing their passion. This adverse environment, however, has virtually vanished as South Korea is now being recognized as Asia’s most vibrant film market (Kim 2003).

The government’s adoption of a globalisation policy led to the removal of significant censorship barriers for filmmakers, allowing them freedom to make more meaningful films. Although the government is more relaxed about content there are new roadblocks for filmmakers as success is measured in box office receipts.

Prior to the release of Shiri, U.S films held the largest share of box office receipts at 60% while domestic films only accounted for 20%; the years following Shiri exponentially increased this share to 50% which still holds as of 2018. While globalisation is not a new concept, within the film industry globalisation has resulted in a Western dominated ethos where Asian representation and culture is absent (Hogarth 2013). Asian representation is abundant in films, though mainly in Asia as these films rarely break local and continental boundaries. South Korea has achieved commercial international success in Asia and beyond through filmmakers creating their own film culture that appeals universally. Shiri, Oldboy, Train to Busan and Okja all conform to this style where they produce “…both uncompromising highly personal films and crisp, intelligent genre movies” (Thomas 2002). Each film remains uniquely Korean through the stories they tell and the meaning etched into every frame showing audiences what it is like to be Korean, while employing Hollywood and Hong Kong cinema techniques that appeal to international audiences. This combination of culture and style is evident throughout all four films where large budgets (relative to South Korea) allow for big action, the use of rapid camera and editing techniques accelerate pace and tension during action sequences and Hollywood style narrative structure. Each film, while employing these methods, stays true to their poignant message about Korea usually hidden within more universal themes that appeal to larger audiences, that is, forgiveness (Shiri), revenge (Oldboy), selflessness (Train to Busan) and environmental issues (Okja). By internationalising Korean cinema and through the government support of the industry, Korean films leverage the international film festival marketplace to showcase and sell films; a profitable strategy that has kept their local industry alive.

A significant portion of South Korean films, specifically big budget blockbusters, will be entered into major international film festivals to promote Korean films and find distribution (profit) across Asia and beyond. Jameson (cited Wilson 2001, p. 313) states that “…the push towards making the `festival film’ and winning international recognition becomes the means of a national-based film survival…”. South Korea’s push towards festivals initially succeeded in selling remake rights, with their goal to pique the interest of Hollywood in distributing their films. Eventually, with critical successes like Shiri and Oldboy Hollywood became more interested in distributing their films and the previously uninterested European film industry also wanted a stake. Without the prestige and market of film festivals, it is unlikely South Korean films would be popular outside of Asia and whether the financial success within their local industry would continue to flourish is debatable. Film festivals, such as, Festival de Cannes offer opportunity for critical and global recognition of Korean films where Oldboy was nominated for the Palm d’Or and won the Grand Prix in 2004. South Korea continues to use the festival market to showcase their films and enjoy success, most recently with Joon-ho Bong’s Parasite winning the Palm d’Or:

Of all pop culture exports, Korean film has established itself as a force in global cinema… star directors such as Park Chan-wook, Kim Jee-woon, and Bong Joon-ho continue to produce critically recognized work that is screened at film festivals and art houses and on college campuses around the world (Oakes 2018).

South Korea’s success internationally began with the government changing their policies to be global rather than local in an effort to capitalise on the culture industry. This resulted in a cinematic style that suited local and international audiences where film festivals are used to promote and profit from their local industry. This led to Korean filmmakers inventing their own cinematic style and stories that designs films for cross-cultural appeal, therefore export and profit.

Shiri, the film that propelled South Korean film into audiences globally, borrows heavily from Hollywood blockbuster action films which is evident as a Western viewer. Je-kyu Kang wrote and directed Shiri specifically to utilise this style and appeal to wider audiences:

…after surveying numerous South Koreans, he realized that there was limited interest in a film with this type of overt political orientation… Kang wrote a script that he thought was commercial as well as socially meaningful… The film has plenty of galvanic action sequences to satisfy testosterone-laden guys, a number of surprising twists and turns, and a heart-tugging love story to satisfy most romantics (Matsumoto 2002).

Using the Hollywood formula helped revive the local industry and shine international attention on South Korean films. It is evident on viewing Shiri, that Kang was heavily influenced by 1980s and 1990s Hollywood action films through the formulaic plot, constant exposition, camera and editing techniques and special effects. At the time, Korean audiences were used to Hollywood films and style but hadn’t seen this applied to uniquely Korean stories. Box office records were broken as audiences flooded to the cinema to see Shiri with its heavy emphasis on violent and gory action sequences, explosions and plot twists. This style is reflected in Korean film exports since while maintaining its own Korean voice. A few years later, Oldboy followed a similar structure with heavy action and violence but also incorporated martial arts style fighting influenced by Hong Kong films, an industry that had become stale. Train to Busan refreshed the zombie genre using a unique Korean take (Korea’s first zombie film) steeped with criticism for Korea’s current political and social climate, but kept the same Hollywood codes and conventions seen in the horror and action genres. Okja is the biggest budget film of the three discussed and caused controversy at the Festival de Cannes for being associated with Netflix. This co-production between South Korea (Lewis Pictures) and the U.S (Plan B Entertainment) is the embodiment of the last 20 years of Korean film. Okja expertly combines the Western and Eastern ethos (Capitalism and Confucianism) and the influence of one over the other into a film that celebrates simplicity and an old way of living. South Korea’s use of multiple cultures through its film industry has created its own new culture hybrid, one that has made South Korea known for its film market around the world.

Hybridisation is not merely the mixing, blending and synthesising of different elements that ultimately forms a culturally faceless whole. In the course of hybridisation, cultures often generate new forms and make new connections with one another (Jin 2010).

South Korea’s use of different industrial and cultural elements in film has breathed new life into their local industry and economy, creating a new era of Korean filmmaking that is both popular and commercially successful. Through globalisation and improved technology that facilitate global interconnectedness, as well as government changes, Koreans are more exposed to cultures around the world and filmmakers have adopted parts of this as part of their own craft aiding the explosion of Korean Wave (Hallyu) starting in Asia. The Korean blockbuster film is a result of this cultural hybridity, a new form of storytelling that is dominating Korean film investment and cinemas. This evolution of Korean cinema has “… developed hybrid narrative conventions that mix the local and the global (mainly Hollywood) through dynamic cultural and artistic processes of assimilating, modifying and re-creating” (Shim & Yecies 2011). As Shim and Yecies discuss, Korean filmmakers have not simply appropriated a culture but have created a cultural hybrid that is uniquely Korean yet familiar to non-Korean audiences. Train to Busan exemplifies this notion through its use of a well-known and beloved genre using the correct codes and conventions all with a universal setting with universal themes. Additionally, the film tells the audience a lot about life in Korea across different social and economic classes, so that even those not from South Korea understand and can relate to the characters. While South Korea continues to release critical and commercial successes, it focusses on the Hollywood blockbuster model of high budgets as a means for generating more profit. This has potentially damaging implications for the South Korean film industry.

South Korea’s film industry has grown exponentially locally and internationally since the release of Shiri in 1999. At the time Shiri was the largest budget production in Korea, since then big budget blockbusters (relative to South Korea) have dominated investment and production of films creating the need for productions to spend more and more on their films to keep up with their popularity; this raises the argument of whether this model is sustainable (Han 2011). Rising production costs mean less new filmmakers are given opportunities and formulaic storytelling is given precedence over new methods and ideas, restricting the industries ability to evolve with the market and audience as the industry focusses more on profits than on artistic merit. This is ironic considering that Korea’s film industry has become popular using existing methods and models shaped into a new meaning and culture within their film industry. The commercial focus of Korean film, that is profit driven films along with the increasing production costs, damages the quality of storytelling and dominates cinemas locally where small budget films aren’t able to compete. This is evident where big budget films are considered higher quality and monopolise cinemas across the country, conversely small budget films that are critically acclaimed get shorter releases as they are in direct competition with more commercial films (Kim 2003). South Korea’s film industry, as with the Hollywood model, faces the uncertainty of sustainability due to these issues. While Hollywood’s model is scrutinised on the quality of films and the sustainability of the blockbuster model, this industry is far wider reaching than South Korea’s industry and is unlikely to change or breakdown in the future. The same cannot be said for South Korea where big budget is comparably a low budget film for Hollywood and has less reach globally.

The South Korean government made extensive changes to its policies on censorship and adopted a globalisation policy to improve the economy and monetise the culture industry. This made it possible for Shiri to be made where it exceeded expectations locally and revived the local film industry where the Hollywood dominated the box office. Shiri utilised the Hollywood blockbuster method and style of storytelling to appeal to a Korean audience, this started a change in how the Korean film industry thought about making films that allowed other major successes like Oldboy, Train to Busan and Okja to be made. The film industry evolved to making films internationally appealing yet uniquely Korean and utilised the film festival market to popularise Korean film and maximise profits through remake rights and distribution. The combined elements of Hollywood and Hong Kong cinema along with Korean stories created a cultural hybrid within the industry that continues to be popular locally and internationally. While the Korean industry remains successful, its current blockbuster model is criticised for increasing production costs and reducing the artistic quality of films. The sustainability of this model is questionable when in competition with Hollywood and streaming services, though the Korean entertainment industry has not waned in popularity it must continue to rely on its other exports such as television and music if there are no changes made.

References

Han, S 2011, ‘Globalization and hybridity of Korean cinema : critical analysis of Korean blockbuster films’, University of Texas Libraries, viewed 16 August 2019, <https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/handle/2152/ETD-UT-2011-05-3308>

Hogarth, HK 2013, ‘The Korean Wave: An Asian Reaction to Western-Dominated Globalization’, Perspectives on Global Development & Technology, vol. 12, no. 1/2, pp. 135–151, viewed 16 August 2019, Academic Search Complete EBSCOhost.

Jin, DY 2010, ‘Critical Interpretation of Hybridisation in Korean Cinema: Does the Local Film Industry Create “The Third Space”?’, Javnost-The Public, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 55–71, viewed 17 August 2019, Academic Search Complete EBSCOhost.

Kim, J 2003, ‘South Korean Cinema: The Take-Off to Globalization’, Harvard Asia Quarterly, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 16–20, viewed 16 August 2019, Academic Search Complete EBSCOhost.

Matsumoto, J 2002, ‘A Korean Détente’, Los Angeles Times, 08 February, viewed 17 August 2019, <https://1drv.ms/u/s!ArwvRnii-Qr2xnjR8wElCMHoDHSi?e=9svWJZ>

Oakes, B 2018, ‘New Korean Wave’, Journal of Film & Video, vol. 70, no. 3/4, pp. 103–105, viewed 17 August 2019, Academic Search Complete EBSCOhost.

Shim, A & Yecies, B 2011, ‘Contemporary Korean Cinema: Challenges and the Transformation of ‘Planet Hallyuwood’, University of Wollongong, viewed 10 August 2019, <https://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1591&context=artspapers>

Thomas, K 2002, ‘Shiri Captures Political Intrigue’s Toll’, Los Angeles Times, 08 February,viewed 17 August 2019, <https://1drv.ms/b/s!ArwvRnii-Qr2xndQlECSbbVIOAv5?e=LQqetB>

Wilson, R 2001, ‘Korean cinema on the road to globalization: tracking global/local dynamics, or why Im Kwon-Taek is not Ang Lee’, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 307–318, viewed 17 August 2019, Academic Search Complete EBSCOhost.

An analysis of the elements of mise-en-scène in a scene from Hereditary (2018) and how these elements convey meaning.

The film Hereditary (2018) is a horror film that is about grief and how a family struggles to process that grief. “The Dinner Scene” that will be analysed occurs at a family dinner after Charlie, Annie and Steve’s daughter, is killed in an accident involving her older brother Peter. The elements of mise-en-scene analysed will show a family falling apart under the weight of their grief and the blame they cast on each other. The accident occurred because Annie forced Charlie to go to a party with Peter to prevent him from drinking underage and to be vindictive, as Annie and Peter do not have a healthy relationship. Charlie goes into anaphylactic shock at the party and Peter puts her in the family car he borrowed, then races her to the hospital. On the way, Charlie puts her head out of the window gasping for air as Peter swerves to avoid an animal in the road when she is decapitated as her head hits a telegraph pole. In shock, Peter drives home and goes to bed. The next day Annie finds Charlie’s headless body in the car; this is shown purely by Peter’s reactions to Annie’s screaming. This essay will analyse the framing, editing, set design, wardrobe, lighting, colour, performance and blocking of the family dinner where tensions explode.

The framing and editing of this scene create tension and show each character’s current state and position within their family. Ari Aster (the Director), for the most
part, uses longer lenses with a shallow depth of field to blur the background and keep the family members the focus of the scene, i.e. he draws the audience’s attention to the characters more sharply. Aster starts the scene relatively tightly framed rather than starting wide and moving in, this starts the audience in a place of tension. The audience is brought in close to see the character’s behaviour towards each other and through the use of single shots, how disconnected they are. To build this tension slowly, Aster focuses on one character at a time and their reactions with the pacing slow at first then building into quick cuts as Annie finally explodes at her son Peter. Finally, Aster moves into a wide shot to end the scene because the tension has exploded and everything the characters were feeling has been said. In total, there are 46 cuts and approximately 10 unique shots in this scene. The composition of these shots shows the current state of the characters and how different they are to each other; Annie is framed with lots of set dressing/props in the foreground and the wall behind her is relatively close, this shows that Annie’s pain and grief are closer to the surface and making her feel suffocated. This is in contrast to Peter, who has a deeper background and fewer items in the foreground giving the frame an appearance of more space. This shows Peter’s grief and pain are there but not so overwhelming that he can’t pretend everything is fine. Lastly, Steve has the emptiest frame and the furthest background. This is representative of Steve’s character as the one coping the best with his grief so that he can support his wife and son.

The set design elements in the background very clearly represent a family home with pictures, furniture, knick-knacks and furnishings. However, the longer lens and shallow focus of the camera make it the darkest part of the frame. By separating the set design so drastically from the characters and making it less visible but still full, Aster is showing the audience that this was once a family that regularly spent time together in this space. This family is now torn apart by grief and blame, therefore does not spend much time together. This is contrasted with the food and crockery filling the dining table, a meal that Steve prepared. This represents Steve’s attempt at keeping his family together by putting extra effort into preparing a meal they can all share, however, Peter is the only one that seems to notice this as Annie is consumed by her grief and anger that is clearly bubbling to the surface. There are several ways Aster shows that Annie is offside with the rest of the family, one of which is through the character’s wardrobe. Peter and Steve are wearing very similar outfits with plain dark coloured shirts, a white undershirt, dark pants and sneakers; they are closer to each other than Annie is to them and Steve is more sympathetic towards his son than to Annie. Annie’s outfit is the opposite, she is wearing a light coloured and striped jacket, a darker top underneath, light blue pants and loafers. This makes Annie stand out as the outsider to their relationship and shows her disconnect with her husband and son.

Annie’s opposition to the family and each family member’s current state of mind are also reflected in the unique lighting choices for each character. Using a large practical key light from above Aster gives each character a distinct look; Annie is lit the least flattering with the light above creating hard shadows under her eyes and showing every line in her face. This harsh lighting shows Annie’s pain and amplifies her rage when she screams at Peter, but also makes her look more menacing than Peter or Steve. Peter is also cast in shadow albeit softer, the contrast making Peter look more sympathetic in his grief without the same menace as his mother Annie; they are both suffering but Peter is still only a teenager. Steve is the most evenly lit throughout the scene, again the opposite of Annie and demonstrating his disconnection from her and closer relationship to his son. The overhead light also serves another purpose, when Annie suddenly stands to berate Peter she is closer to the light creating a “hot spot” that amplifies her inward feelings of rage outwards physically and harder shadows in the lines of her face; she is exhausted and ill with her pain. The warm key light above and lack of lighting in the background adds to the feeling that the family room is disused due to their disconnection, guilt and blame of each other. Aster’s use of practical lighting grounds the scene in realism where the colour palette of warm green and unnatural blue reflects the mood of the scene and the overall themes of the film. Aster has chosen a warm light with a tint of green for the key light and other practical lights dotted around the house, and unnatural blues in the background coming from the moon outside. Interior house lights are typically warm tungsten/orange, Aster manipulates this feeling of home and comfort by adding a tint of green to the warm lighting. This touch of green adds a sickly quality to a traditionally safe space, family dinner, reflecting everyone experiencing their own grief and guilt that has torn them apart. The combination of a warm green key light makes the unnatural moonlight stand out from the background, where most of the set is in shadow. The unnatural blue light complements the warm tones and puts light in the set where it creates silhouettes and shadows in the disused family room.

Lastly, the blocking of this scene is key to understanding the family’s struggle to process their grief causing the tension and detachment from each other. There are at least three shots that show this in the blocking; the first shot of the scene shows Annie on the opposite side to Peter and Steve who appear on the same side of the table (even though they physically aren’t), shot 9 (cut 33) shows Annie on opposing sides with Steve caught in the middle but more sympathetic to his son by sitting closer to him and shot 10 (cut 46) reinforces the same. These three shots are from different sides of the room and vary in framing but they all show that Annie is different and disconnected from the rest of her family. The actors give three distinct performances in this scene, showing they are each processing the pain of their grief differently, which is highlighted by the single shots of their reactions to Annie’s outburst being primarily used throughout this part of the scene. Annie is blind unbridled rage and grief, she says what she is feeling to the discomfort of everyone including the audience, she moves suddenly and often unable to hold anything back. Peter is frozen in the shock and hurt by what his mother says to him shrinking down when she begins her outburst and slightly flinching when Annie screams about Charlie being dead. Peter’s grief has been internalised and he is unable to let it out, unlike Annie, his way of coping is to shift his own guilt to his mother. Steve’s grief is shown differently to Peters’, while he is also immobilised by Annie’s outburst, he looks between her and his son unable to stop what is happening. Steve looks at Annie with anger and pain but is sympathetic and comforting to Peter, yet unable to externalise his own pain as the patriarch that must try to keep the family together.

This essay has explored how, the Director, Ari Aster used framing, editing, set design, wardrobe, lighting, colour, performance and blocking of “The Dinner Scene” in Hereditary to show a family disintegrating as they struggle to process the grief of Charlie’s death, an accident that their son Peter was involved in. The framing and editing show each character’s position and disconnection within the family, while the set design complements this with what is allowed to be shown in that frame; i.e. a disused family room and a dinner that suffocates Annie within the frame. In addition, the contrasted wardrobe between Annie, Peter and Steve show they are on opposing sides and not in good standing with each other. The lighting and colour chosen enhances the tension and exposes the feeling of grief unique to each character, while the blocking and performance physicalise how each character deals with this grief differently.

The 46 Cuts – Reference Images

Does subversion of the Horror genre through familial conflict make Horror films horrifying for the audience?

The Horror genre has existed in storytelling long before film was invented or even conceivable; the genre has changed and evolved through time and across mediums, therefore the way these stories are made frightening must also evolve. Subverting genre keeps films entertaining and fresh for the audience and in the case of Horror, makes them more frightening. This essay argues that, through the introduction of familial conflict, or family drama, filmmakers subvert the Horror genre into films more horrifying to the audience. This essay will first explore how codes and conventions define the Horror genre and how filmmakers make repeated tropes in genre fresh so that their films are entertaining for the audience. Subsequently, this essay will examine what makes family drama and horror such a frightening combination for the audience. Finally, three recent films that deal with familial conflict through the genre of Horror will be analysed to determine how the filmmakers subverted the genre to make their films more horrifying.

Codes and conventions are the maps that guide the filmmaker and audience within a specific genre (or mixed genres), that is, they are the accepted ways the filmmaker gives meaning to the audience;

Semiotic analysis is a way to explain how an audience makes meaning from codes. All meaning is encoded in that which creates the meaning. No object or word is without meaning – one cannot read or see something without associating it to a certain idea, the meaning. (De Reeper 2013)

The codes and conventions used by filmmakers have been well established and vary across genres, sometimes crossing over, giving the audience an understanding about the type of film they are watching whether they are conscious of this or not. An audience can easily identify a Horror genre film because of a vast set of codes, such as, the use of high contrast lighting that plays with the light and shadow of the image (chiaroscuro) and casts darkness across the setting or the people within it. The filmmaker will usually include camera angles or framing that obscures part of the scene, so the audience is almost leaning forward in their seats to peak into the world of the film. Immediately an audience feels a current or impending danger for the protagonist, however, Film Noir also uses high contrast lighting and obscured framing, therefore codes alone cannot establish the genre of a film. Conventions are another way filmmakers give meaning to the audience and in the Horror genre this also builds up fear and tension, such as a cabin in the woods (isolated location) the characters are trapped in as they are violently murdered one by one. This gives way to another convention, that of the ‘Final Girl’, where one survivor must face off with the film’s monster. The Horror genre has a long history and many codes and conventions have been built within it for the filmmaker to give meaning to the audience, however, repeated patterns within film do not entertain or horrify audiences. In order to make a Horror film that achieves this goal, the codes and conventions that make it must become new to the audience.

Whilst Horror codes and conventions define the genre and give meaning for filmmakers and the audience, the subversion of a genre brings new elements to the film that entertain and provide new ways of instilling fear and tension into the audience. Chandler (1997, p.7) acknowledges this by explaining that to write within a genre one must use the established codes and conventions of that genre but must introduce ‘new elements’. A method of bringing in new elements to a genre film is to manipulate or exploit the codes and conventions, that is, subverting the accepted and repeated elements of the Horror genre. Furthermore, Jordan Peele states in the Vice Guide to Film “Horror movies… are about releasing a conversation about some social phenomenon or some real-life horror…” (Cohen 2018). Horror is a genre that lends itself to filmmakers examining controversial or dangerous themes and ideologies, thus allowing them to transform the genre from the expected tropes and create a deeper meaning for the audience. The three films analysed in this essay, Hereditary (2018), Get Out (2017) and The Babadook (2014), all subvert the codes and conventions of Horror in addition to exploring themes of familial conflict; these are the new elements Chandler refers to. Conflict within a family is usually explored in dramatic films, however, when utilised by Horror filmmakers, it creates a new way of delivering and intensifying the horror for the audience.

Family Dramas explore themes that are universal to the audience, this is not always the case in Horror, such as the un-killable monster that hunts promiscuous teenagers in a white suburb (Halloween et al). Universal themes are those that most people understand or have experienced in their lives, subsequently, they draw the audience emotionally closer to the story and characters because they can identify with them and feel empathy, whether consciously or subconsciously. The audience emotionally connecting to a character, especially the protagonist, is essential for the filmmaker so that the audience is invested in the outcome of the story as the stakes are raised leading up to the climax. To achieve a connection between the audience and the protagonist in Horror, the three films analysed utilise familial conflict in the form of grief (Hereditary), racism (Get Out) and motherhood (The Babadook). The use of these themes not only creates the desired emotional connection from the audience but elevates the tension and horror. Maw (2017) states ‘Horror isn’t in the gothic and ghostly, but in the people we’re taught to love. Horror is close to home’, the imperative here is that what frightens an audience most are the things or people that are believed to be safe, such as, your own family, the trust and love of your significant other or a mother that cares for you.

Hereditary explores, among other things, the universally understood theme of grief and the impact this has on a family;

I wanted to make a film that served as a serious meditation on grief and trauma. It begins as a family tragedy and then continues down that path, but gradually curdles into a full-bore nightmare—in the same way that life can really feel like a nightmare, like everything is falling apart – Ari Aster. (Stefansky 2018)

The connection with the audience and Annie (Toni Collette) occurs as the film follows her dealing with the loss of her mother, whom she had a fractured relationship with, the fractured relationship she has with her own son Peter (Alex Wolff) culminating in the shocking death of her daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro). Charlie’s death creates further tensions within the family, especially between Annie and Peter. In a traditional drama, these events would lead to a healing of the family, instead, Writer and Director Ari Aster uses these traumatic events to embed a simmering tension throughout the entirety of the film that serves to increase the intensity of the horror for the audience. The main setting of the film is in the family home, generally a place where people feel safe. Aster exploits this safe feeling by having the home located in an isolated area, that is, the middle of the woods; a commonly used Horror convention, such as the cabin in the woods previously mentioned. Therefore, Aster has subverted the convention by locating the audiences ‘safe space’ in a conventionally unsafe place where most of the tension and horror occurs. Additionally, the climax of the film is a subversion of the ‘Final Battle’ convention, where the audience expects a grand sacrifice or gallant fight with the monster that brings triumph to the hero. Annie’s attempt to sacrifice herself and save her son, therefore symbolically repairing their relationship, fails and puts the antagonists on the path to victory. Ultimately, the film is horrifying to the audience because Aster uses their empathy for the characters against them, and finally, shows that the characters were never going to win as their fate was inevitable, just as death and grief are inevitable.

Get Out Writer and Director Jordan Peele cleverly creates an emotional connection between the audience and Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) by using a situation most people can empathise with, regardless of race. Meeting a significant other’s parents for the first time is a situation that mostly plays out in dramas and comedies, rarely would Horror explore such a dramatic situation.

One of the lessons I took from Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner—which is one of the influences here—is that one of the reasons that film was so effective in its discussion with race is because it started with a situation that was universal. Take the race out of it, everybody can relate to the fear of meeting your potential in-laws for the first time – Jordon Peele. (Goldsmith 2017)

Peele builds tension throughout the film by exploiting the audience’s ability to empathise with Chris, intertwined with racism through ‘racial micro-aggressions’ committed by Rose’s (Allison Williams) family and their guests. The racial tone of the film is set from the first scene where Peele subverts the Horror convention of killing off the black male first. In Get Out the African-American male Andre (Lakeith Stanfield) is lost in a white neighbourhood but is completely self-aware that this place is unsafe for him and despite doing all the ‘smart’ things, by trying to get away from danger, he fails. Peele establishes early in the film that the people an audience would usually consider safe, the Police, aren’t for Chris because of his skin colour. At the end of a Horror film when the Police arrive it is a signal to the audience that the danger is over and they can relax. Peele uses this and the dramatic betrayal by Rose to increase the tension and make the climax more horrifying, as Chris leans over the bloodied Rose, familiar flashing lights appear. It isn’t until the audience realises it isn’t the Police that the tension is dissipates and the danger is over.

Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook takes the audience on a dark exploration of motherhood, where Amelia (Essie Davis) is a fractured single mother dealing with a troubled young son and the loss of her husband. Through this Kent exposes a truth about our society, that mothers are idealised by accepting nothing but perfection and ignore the fact that they are humans with needs and faults. Kent emphasises this and connects the audience to Amelia by using grief as an undercurrent to all her actions and the overall tone of the film.

I think where horror excels is when it becomes emotional and visceral… I wanted to talk about the need to face the darkness in ourselves and in our lives. That was the core idea for me… The horror is really just a byproduct – Jennifer Kent. (MacInnes 2014)

Although Amelia is dealing with grief, her behaviour towards Samuel (Noah Wiseman) is shocking and a constant source of tension for the audience; here Kent is challenging the Horror convention of the ‘Evil Matriarch’. Generally, this trope is used to establish an antagonist where the mother figure has always been evil and/or abusive. In The Babadook, Kent establishes early in the film that Amelia is not the perfect mother and can barely stand being around her son but shows she still loves him through her other actions. The audience empathises with Amelia’s grief and exhaustion at dealing with Samuel, however, her behaviour towards Samuel is a source of tension that slowly increases until she is completely possessed by unchecked grief (evil). The Babadook creature, Amelia’s descent and eventual possession are more horrifying to the audience because she is a mother, a figure in most audiences lives that represents the ultimate comfort and safety.

In conclusion, this essay has examined how three recent films subverted conventions of the Horror genre using familial conflict and found that the filmmakers created a deeper meaning within the film that intensified the horror for the audience. To achieve this, the filmmakers used codes and conventions associated with Horror films; an important part of making a film meaningful to an audience. Codes and conventions are repeated across genres because they guide filmmakers and audiences but must remain fresh and entertaining, therefore filmmakers subvert genres to add new elements, and in the case of Horror, to make their films more horrifying to the audience. The filmmakers of Hereditary, Get Out and The Babadook all achieved this by using universal themes to create connections with the audience, subsequently making them emotionally invested in the denouement of the story and the fate of the characters.

References

Chandler, D 1997, ‘Introduction to Genre Theory’, Visual Memory, viewed 07 December 2018, <http://visual- memory.co.uk/daniel/Documents/intgenre/chandler_genre_theory.pdf>

Cohen, L 2018, Vice Guide to Film: New American Horror, SBS On Demand, Vice Studio Canada, Toronto.

De Reeper, M 2013, ‘How to Analyse Movies #2: Signs, Codes & Conventions’, Film Inquiry, viewed 09 December 2018, <https://www.filminquiry.com/analyse-movies- signs/>

Goldsmith, J 2017, Jordan Peele Get Out Q&A, podcast, The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith, 07 December 2018, <http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/2/a/2/2a2f04d2bb4bb878/JordanPeeleGetOutQandA.mp3 ?c_id=14312186&cs_id=14312186&expiration=1544715469&hwt=3bf55594f0e23ab2 c13365f893a622fd>

MacInnes, P 2014, ‘The Babadook: I wanted to talk about the need to face darkness in ourselves’, The Guardian, viewed 10 December 2018, <https://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/oct/18/the-babadook-jennifer-kent&gt;

Maw L 2017, ‘The Shining, Domestic Violence, and the Architecture of Horror’, Catapult, viewed 09 December 2018, <https://catapult.co/stories/fans-the-shining- domestic-violence-and-the-architecture-of-horror>

Stefansky, E 2018, ‘That Horrific Hereditary Scene Is Director Ari Aster’s Favorite’, Vanity Fair, viewed 13 December 2018, <https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/06/hereditary-toni-collette-horror-movie- ari-aster-director-interview>

“Heroines” Documentary Released Online

I’m pleased to say that post-production for the “Heroines: Victorian Fire Services” documentary short is complete! A very special thank you to Rachel Cowling, Briody Walker and Elizabeth Holley who agreed to be interviewed by me.

The Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) and the Country Fire Authority (CFA) Media and Communications team have signed off on the final cut, ready to be released. Thank you Belinda Nolan and Harry Adam for making this documentary possible.

I had a great time working with both organisations. I was struck by how everyone I spoke to was passionate about their work, the community and improving the culture of Victorian Fire Services.

The most surprising and rewarding thing for me was the direction the documentary took while speaking to the amazing women at both organisations. What started as a look into the struggles of women in such a male dominated field, quickly turned into a non-issue and the documentary became about normalising the fact that women can hold such positions in our community.

My favourite comment came from Rachel Cowling of the MFB, which really sums up the story told in the documentary,

“I’d love to see more women join, I think it’s a wonderful career. It’s an opportunity open to everybody, and we need to get the word out there that this is a career that any little girl, any guy, can do if they just put their head down and really try hard.”

The Victorian Fire Services are working hard on improving diversity in their organisations, but it’s not just about educating women for them. There is a strong focus on improving diversity across cultures and gender, so that they can better represent the community they serve.

You can view the full documentary here:

German Expressionism’s Influence on the Work of Alfred Hitchcock

Image by Kate Fisher

Alfred Hitchcock is internationally renowned as The Master of Suspense, whilst this is a fair designation for the man that brought into the world such masterpieces as, Rope (1948), Strangers on a Train (1951), Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958) and Psycho (1960), it understates Hitchcock’s mastery over a visual narrative where his characters show us the world they live in, and where his style of filming deeply affects the emotions and mood of the audience. This essay will argue that German Expressionism, a purely visual style of storytelling, has influenced some of Hitchcock’s greatest films. This essay will examine Hitchcock’s time and experience in Germany working in co-productions with Gainsborough Pictures and Universum Film-Aktien Gesellschaft (UFA), and how this began his film career. Secondly, how Hitchcock’s film Vertigo tells the story through character’s view of the world, a major trope of German Expressionist films. Lastly, how Hitchcock uses startling imagery and chiaroscuro to express inner turmoil in his most famous film, Psycho.

From humble beginnings in advertising, Hitchcock eventually found his way into his first job in the film industry at Famous Players-Lasky. This led to Hitchcock becoming a writer, designer and assistant director with Gainsborough Pictures, a new production company started by Michael Balcon. In 1924, Hitchcock went to Berlin to work on a German and British co-production of The Black Guard (1925) financed by the UFA production company. The UFA studios at the time were ‘the best equipped and most modern in the world’ (Encyclopaedia Britannica 1998), and it is at this time that Hitchcock observed F.W Murnau making The Last Laugh (1924) which not only introduced him to innovations in filmmaking he had never seen in Britain, but to the Director Murnau, where they discussed filmmaking (Krohn 2010, p. 7). Hitchcock’s roots in the silent era of cinema have had an obvious influence over his style, however his exposure to the pioneering techniques of Germany’s finest filmmakers, pushed Hitchcock to think more creatively about filmmaking. Taylor (1996) explains, while shooting The Black Guard Hitchcock used a (human) forced perspective to give the impression of an infinite crowd of angels, by using tall actors, midgets and dolls. This he learned from observing the making of Murnau’s The Last Laugh and heeding Murnau’s lesson ‘What you can see on the set does not matter, the only truth that counts is what you see on screen’ (Taylor 1996). Prior to his journey to Germany, Hitchcock had not thought of directing as a career path, but to his surprise Balcon asked Hitchcock to direct two co-productions in Germany, The Pleasure Garden (1925) and The Mountain Eagle (1925). While, these where Hitchcock’s first films as a director, Hitchcock himself said his first ‘true Hitchcock movie’ (Truffaut 1984, p. 43) was The Lodger (1927). This film was made directly after his time in Germany, so it is no wonder it is heavily influenced by the German Expressionist style of the time. The Lodger may be the first film Hitchcock was able to express his own style of storytelling, with influence from the German expressionists, but it would not be his last nor his most famous.

Secondly, Hitchcock did not stop exercising what he learnt from the German Expressionists after The Lodger. Many of his films carry the shadow of this influence, in particular, his 1958 film Vertigo. A common trope used in German Expressionist films is storytelling from the character’s view of the world, a strange world created through a purely subjective eye (Knudsen 2016). This trope is employed by Hitchcock in Vertigo to tell the story of retired detective John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson (James Stewart). The world of the film is seen through the eyes of Scottie, but the film is far from a love story; in true Hitchcock style nothing is as it seems. The audience’s perception of the world being portrayed subjectively through the character’s eyes echoes the themes of Robert Weine’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). Through the view of the male protagonists the audience experiences the love, obsession and madness in Vertigo and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. ‘Our viewing of Vertigo is channelled through Scottie’s ‘gazing’ at Madeleine (Kim Novak)’ (Klevan 2014), which mirrors Francis’ (Friedrich Fehér) obsession with Jane (Lil Dagover) in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Both Hitchcock and Wiene unfold a story of twists and falsity, expressed through their protagonist’s view. In The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Francis tells the story of his love Jane while horrible murders are committed by an unknown man. As Francis investigates the murder of his best friend and how Dr. Caligari is involved, Wiene shows us clues through Francis’ skewed view of the world revealing that none of what happened in the story was true, only a figment of a mad man’s mind. In Vertigo, Scottie takes a case for a friend whose wife is either insane or possessed by a spirit. Hitchcock manipulates the audience’s interpretation of this through the now obsessed and infatuated Scottie’s version of events; it appears that Madeleine is indeed possessed by a spirit and commits suicide. Scottie is sent to a hospital due to mental illness caused by the loss of Madeleine, as we see his own madness unfold through nightmares reflecting Madeleine’s own supposed possession. It is finally revealed that Madeleine never existed, and it was all the sinister plot of Scottie’s old friend to kill his wife. Both Hitchcock and Wiene manipulate the audience using the protagonist’s perception of the world in a visually striking way, that exposes the façade of their world.

Finally, Hitchcock’s use of character perspective is not the only influence German Expressionism had on his film style. In his most famous work, Psycho, Hitchcock uses light and shadow, and striking imagery to express the tone of the film and the mood of its characters. Barsacq (cited in Burns 2016, p. 65) explains that ‘premeditation’ is a term that can be used to describe all expressionist directors. Murnau, also in his most famous contribution to cinema Nosferatu (1922) maintained control of every aspect of what was captured on film, ‘every aspect of nature, every house front, every view of the castle (all seen at a certain angle), is calculated to evoke anguish and terror’ (Burns 2016). Hitchcock, who learnt from Murnau in 1924, also held great control over all the details in the production of his films by working closely with his trusted collaborators and shooting in a studio as much as possible. Hitchcock exhibits this mastery over mise-en-scene and lighting throughout Psycho. Firstly, as Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) talk in his office, the conversation takes a dark turn on the subject of Norman’s mother. The audience gets a sense of the darkness within Norman, not through the awkward dialogue, but from the brilliantly designed set and lighting. Stuffed birds and pictures adorn the walls of the office, with elongated shadows cast across the wall and Norman’s face as if he is part of the Bates Motel itself. The most affecting of these shots is a large stuffed owl preparing to strike looming over Norman’s head, giving the audience a sense of unease about him, and a glimpse at the struggle within him. This shot is similar to another Murnau film Faust (1926), where the demon Mephisto in his demonic form stretches his black wings over Faust’s town as he tempts him to choose the side of evil. In both films, these images represent a dark and evil presence affecting the character.

The shower sequence in Psycho… It’s also referred to again and again because of the way it was made – a series of shots, cut together very scientifically to obtain this ground-breaking effect that gave the illusion that the actress was actually being stabbed, so that you saw more than there was on the screen. (Bouzereau 2010, p. 130)

Hitchcock uses light and shadow throughout the infamous shower scene and inconsistent camera angles to put the audience off balance. Marion takes a shower after days of travelling, the room is well lit and a seemingly safe place. This all changes when the camera angle shifts to where the bathroom wall should be, breaking the 180-degree rule (the scene starts with the shower head on the left of frame and Marion is on the right) as the bathroom door swings open to reveal a menacing figure. In this scene the murderer remains shrouded in shadow as they stab Marion to death, along with the rapid cuts of the attack Hitchcock implants the panic and terror Marion is feeling into the audience. Hitchcock’s Psycho is masterfully directed in expressing each character’s inner feelings using lighting and extreme imagery.

In conclusion, this essay has explored the influence German Expressionism had on the work of Alfred Hitchcock. It has found that with the filmmaking techniques and lessons he learnt in Germany, Hitchcock began his directing career with strong influences of German Expressionism, whilst honing his own style of filmmaking. In addition, Hitchcock used his character’s perspective to show the audience the world of the film and to unfold the story, this is most prevalent in his film Vertigo, where the way the story is told from the protagonist’s skewed version of the world mirrors the themes of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Finally, in Psycho, Hitchcock’s mastery over light and shadow, in combination with shocking and startling images express the character’s inner feelings to the audience with intensity. Hitchcock made a lasting impact not only on the film industry, but film audiences around the world. Hitchcock’s love for the art of filmmaking existed before his trip to Germany nearly 100 years ago, but it was the expressionists that made a lasting impact on his own work. Hitchcock witnessed film innovation and new ways to express ideas in Germany, that he carried on throughout his career using the visual narrative to tell his stories and intrigue or terrify his audience.

 

Reference List

Bouzereau, L 2010, Hitchcock, Piece by Piece, Harry N. Abrams, New York.

Burns, WF 2016, ‘From the Shadows: Nosferatu and the German Expressionist Aesthetic’, Mise-En-Scene, vol.1, no.1, pp. 62-73, viewed 1 April 2018, Film & Television Literature Index with Full Text EBSCOhost.

Encyclopaedia Britannica 1998, UFA German Film Company, viewed 8 April 2018, <https://www.britannica.com/topic/UFA-German-film-company&gt;

Jaeckle, J 2013, Film Dialogue, p. 15, viewed 7 April 2018, Academic Search Complete Google Books.

Klevan, A 2014, ‘Vertigo and the Spectator of Film Analysis’, Film-Philosophy, vol.18, pp. 147-171, viewed 1 April 2018, Film & Television Literature Index with Full Text EBSCOhost.

Knudsen, T 2016, ‘How German Expressionism Influenced Cinema’s Dark Side’, No Film School, viewed 22 February 2018, <https://nofilmschool.com/2016/08/german-expressionism&gt;

Krohn, B 2010, Masters of Cinema: Alfred Hitchcock, Phaidon Press, New York.

Taylor, JR 1996, Hitch: The Life and Times of Alfred Hitchcock, Da Capo Press Inc, Boston.

Truffat, F 1984, Hitchcock, Simon & Schuster, New York.

 

Bibliography

Crabbe, E 2016, ‘The Shadow of German Expressionism in Cinema’, Film Inquiry, viewed 1 April 2018, <https://www.filminquiry.com/german-expressionism/&gt;

David Mouser 2016, German Expressionism, YouTube, viewed 1 April 2018, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSgjX7VQ-I0&list=WL&index=16&t=0s&gt;

Dodds, P 2018, week 2 notes, lecture notes, FTV 209, JMC Academy, Melbourne on 22 February 2018.

Full Cinema Channel 2016, The Last Laugh, YouTube, viewed 6 April 2018, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7yiZM-SlwI&t=1884s&gt;

Gombrich, EH 1995, The Story of Art, Phaidon Press, New York.

Hitchcock, A 1927, The Lodger, DVD, Gainsborough Pictures, London.

Hitchcock, A 1958, Vertigo, DVD, Paramount Picutres, Los Angeles.

Hitchcock, A 1960, Psycho, DVD, Paramount Picutres, Los Angeles.

Monster Data 2013, Alfred Hitchcock – The Pleasure Garden, YouTube, viewed 6 April 2018, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hoMKZOoNcw&t=21s&gt;

Murnau F.W 1922, Nosferatu A Symphony of Terror, DVD, UFA, Potsdam.

Murnau F.W 1926, Faust, DVD, UFA, Potsdam.

Philipe, AO 2017, 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene, Netflix, Exhibit A Pictures, USA.

J. PotterMedia 2015, German Expressionism Explained, YouTube, viewed 01 April 2018, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3DmCQOwJ3M&list=WL&index=20&t=0s&gt;

Wiene, R 1920, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, DVD, UFA, Potsdam.

David Gulpilil’s Influence on the Cinematic Representation of Indigenous Australians

Header Image by Jon Lewis

I want to do something not only for me but I’m doing it for Australia and for my people and for our culture… I’m doing it for black and white to know better that we have culture and history still existent and I’ll keep trying – David Gulpilil (NFSA 1979).

David Gulpilil is a name synonymous with Aboriginal culture in Australian film, and a household name in Australia. From his film debut in Walkabout (1971), Gulpilil began to shape the perception of Indigenous Australian culture and continued to make an impact on Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike. This essay will argue that David Gulpilil, throughout his 40-year career, has helped bridge a gap of understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by humanising the representation of Indigenous Australians and their culture in film. This essay will examine Gulpilil’s ability to share and humanise the oppressed Aboriginal voice through his characterisation of Indigenous Australians in film. Secondly, Gulpilil’s influence on how Indigenous Australians are represented in films today contrasted to early Australian films. Lastly, how Gulpilil has created an intercultural dialogue that invites all audiences to participate in his storytelling.

In his film debut, David Gulpilil played a lead role as an unnamed black boy in the critically acclaimed Walkabout. From his beginnings as the noble savage in Walkabout, Gulpilil has gone on to play more nuanced and realistic portrayals of Indigenous Australians (McNiven 2017) in such films as Storm Boy (1976), Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002), The Tracker (2002) and Charlie’s Country (2013). In addition to his humanistic portrayals of Aboriginals, Gulpilil injects humour into many roles that not only reflects Aboriginal humour but mirrors the Australian sense of humour in that it is self-deprecating, mocking and anti-authoritarian. French (2014) states that humour helps people face serious issues, especially for those that have been oppressed. Humour is a critical step in creating a bridge between cultures, this is also true for Australians known for their unique sense of humour. Gulpilil’s use of humour in his portrayal of Aboriginals in such films as Storm Boy, Crocodile Dundee (1986) and to a darker extent Charlie’s Country, brings a strong human quality that translates across cultures. The depth of character and humour Gulpilil brings to each role allows the audience to empathise and relate to the character onscreen. This engages the audience so that they can understand and humanise Aboriginal culture, therefore breaking derogatory stereotypes and bridging a gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Secondly, while earlier film portrayals of Indigenous Australians lack multi-dimensional characters, David Gulpilil’s humour and humanisation of Indigenous Australians creates relatable characters that have created more opportunities for dynamic and realistic portrayals of Aboriginal culture in Australian film. Hickling-Hudson (1990) succinctly defines early (specifically 1950-1980) portrayals of Indigenous Australians in film:

The whites… are the dramatic subjects, their personalities explored, their reactions, attitudes, and feelings the focus of the narrative. The blacks are the objects which affect the white world, representing a barrier to be overcome.

The portrayal of Aboriginal characters in this period focuses on uncivilised and mysterious savages roaming the countryside; attempts to introduce stronger Indigenous characters fail with old prejudices. Such as in Bitter Springs (1950) in which race relations are questioned but Aboriginals are an obstacle to be overcome by the white family, and Jedda (1955) in which assimilation is questioned but blackface is used and the Aboriginal leads are dubbed to sound English (assimilated). These films provide a ‘white perspective’ (Hickling-Hudson 1990) on who Aboriginal people are; this characterisation prevented non-Indigenous Australians from seeing Aboriginals as human-beings and understanding their culture. Gulpilil separates himself from these characterisations by giving his characters a humanity and depth, regardless of who has written or directed the film, and is adamant to tell the story of his people. Film plays a significant part in an audience’s perception of the world they live in and in the ‘manufacturing of reality’ (Rekhari 2008), affecting the audience’s culture and everyday life. Therefore, Gulpilil’s influence over the representation of Aboriginal culture in film has created opportunities for other Indigenous Australians while giving non-Indigenous Australians a new and realistic perspective of who Indigenous Australians are.

Finally, David Gulpilil has used his passion, craft and relationships with Australian filmmakers, such as Rolf De Heer, to engage in a dialogue with Aboriginal and white Australian audiences. This is most evident in Ten Canoes (2006) and Another Country (2015), where two critical themes are introduced to the audience as the film opens. In Ten Canoes, Gulpilil introduces the film:

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away… Nah, not like that, I’m only joking. But I am going to tell you a story. It’s not your story. It’s my story: a story like you’ve never seen before. (De Heer 2006)

This introduction immediately invites the audience to take part in the story of the Yolngu people, in a relatable and humorous way. Conversely, in Another Country Gulpilil says, ‘This film is more about you than me… it’s about what happened when my culture was interrupted by your culture’ (Reynolds 2015). This distinction is important for Gulpilil to engage in a dialogue with the audience and share his culture with the world; a culture that is ancient and rich, but that has been ‘interrupted’ by white culture. The striking opening narration from Gulpilil in both films entices the audience to join him on each journey examining a critical part of indigenous culture and history, my story (Indigenous culture) and our story (shared history).

In conclusion, this essay has explored David Gulpilil’s influence on the representation of Indigenous Australians in film. It has found, that through powerful, dynamic and often humorous characterisations of Indigenous Australians he has created characters the audience can relate to, that allows them to humanise Aboriginals and their culture. In addition, Gulpilil’s ability to humanise his characters and relate to the audience has helped break the stereotypes used in an earlier period of film to represent Aboriginals. Finally, Gulpilil uses these skills to start a dialogue between Aboriginal and white Australians by inviting all Australians to take part in his storytelling. David Gulpilil’s representation of Indigenous Australians, has shaped a realistic and human perception of Indigenous Australians, and created further understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

I done a lot for the people, I done a lot for Australia, I done a lot for the outside world. Why? Because I got a culture and language. One Red Blood… I am here to share with you my culture and language. – David Gulpilil (NFSA 2002)

Reference List

De Heer, R 2006, Ten Canoes, Streaming (Stan), Vertigo Productions, Dover.

French, L 2014, ‘David Gulpilil, Aboriginal humour and Australian cinema’, Studies In Australasian Cinema, 8, 1, pp. 34-43, Film & Television Literature Index with Full Text, viewed 9 December 2017, EBSCOhost.

Hickling-Hudson, A 1990, ‘White construction of black identity in Australian films about aborigines’, Literature Film Quarterly, 18, 4, p. 263, Academic Search Complete, viewed 13 December 2017, EBSCOhost

McNiven, L 2017, ‘David Gulpilil’, Australian Screen Online, viewed 08 December 2017, <https://aso.gov.au/people/David_Gulpilil/portrait/&gt;.

NFSA 1979, This is your life: David Gulpilil, Vimeo, viewed 09 December 2017, <https://www.nfsa.gov.au/collection/curated/your-life-david-gulpilil&gt;.

NFSA 2002, Gulpilil – One Red Blood: Sharing Culture and Country, Vimeo, viewed 09 December 2017, <https://www.nfsa.gov.au/collection/curated/gulpilil-one-red-blood-sharing-culture-and-country&gt;.

Rekhari, S 2008, ‘The “Other” in Film: Exclusions of Aboriginal Identity from Australian Cinema’, Visual Anthropology, 21, 2, pp. 125-135, Film & Television Literature Index with Full Text, viewed 12 December 2017, EBSCOhost.

Reynolds, M 2015, Another Country, Vimeo, Vertigo Productions, Dover.

Bibliography

Australian Government 2007, Australian Humour, viewed 08 December 2017, <http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn-humour&gt;.

Bellanta, M 2009, ‘LEARY KIN: AUSTRALIAN LARRIKINS AND THE BLACKFACE MINSTREL DANDY’, Journal Of Social History, 42, 3, pp. 677-695, Academic Search Complete, viewed 13 December 2017, EBSCOhost.

Byrnes, P 2017, ‘Bitter Springs’, Australian Screen Online, viewed 13 December 2017, <https://aso.gov.au/titles/features/bitter-springs/notes/&gt;.

Chauvel, C 1955, Jedda, DVD, Charles Chauvel Productions, Australia.

Collins et al. 2006, 100 Greatest Films of Australian Cinema, Scribal Publishing, Melbourne.

Daley, P 2015, ‘ David Gulpilil – magnetic Indigenous actor connecting two Australias’, The Guardian, 29 July, viewed 01 December 2017, <https://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/jul/29/david-gulpilil-magnetic-indigenous-actor-connecting-two-australias&gt;.

De Heer, R 2013, Charlie’s Country, DVD, Vertigo Productions, Dover.

Evans, MR 2004, ‘Bringing to Light’, Journal Of American Folklore, 117, pp. 475-476, Art & Architecture Source, viewed 9 December 2017, EBSCOhost.

Grovers, D 2013, ‘Gulpilil caught between two worlds’, IF, viewed 01 December 2017, <https://www.if.com.au/gulpilil-caught-between-two-worlds&gt;.

Karlovsky, B 2016, ‘”What happened to my culture when it was interrupted by yours”: Gulpilil’, IF, viewed 01 December 2017, <https://www.if.com.au/what-happened-to-my-culture-when-it-was-interrupted-by-yours-gulpilil/&gt;.

Langton, M 2005, ‘Aboriginal Art and Film: The Politics of Representation’, Rouge, viewed 11 December 2017, <http://www.rouge.com.au/6/aboriginal.html&gt;

Pike, A & Cooper, R 1998, Australian Film: 1900-1977, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

NFSA 1982, Walkabout to Hollywood: Dance, Vimeo, viewed 09 December 2017, <https://www.nfsa.gov.au/collection/curated/walkabout-hollywood-dance&gt;.

NFSA 2002, Gulpilil – One Red Blood: Sharing culture and country, Vimeo, viewed 09 December 2017, <https://www.nfsa.gov.au/collection/curated/gulpilil-one-red-blood-sharing-culture-and-country&gt;.

Noyce, P 2002, Rabbit-Proof Fence, Streaming (Stan), Rumbalara Films, Sydney.

Safran, H 1976, Storm Boy, DVD, The South Australian Film Corporation, Adelaide.

Spring, A 2015, ‘David Gulpilil: the lessons I learned from Charlie’s Country’, The Guardian, 06 February, viewed 01 December 2017, <https://www.theguardian.com/film/australia-culture-blog/2015/feb/06/david-gulpilil-interview-charlies-country&gt;.

Trigg, F 2016, ‘Culture, Interrupted Molly Reynolds’, Metro Magazine, vol. unknown, no.187, pp. 90-95, viewed 05 December 2017, General OneFile.

Wilson, J 2015, ‘What Happened To Billy?: David Gulpilil on Mad Dog Morgan’, Senses Of Cinema, 75, pp. 1-12, Film & Television Literature Index with Full Text, viewed 10 December 2017, EBSCOhost.