I was berated today for seeing the afore mentioned awhstraliah - for being commercial drivel. And it's true there has been an amount of commercial interest in the film.
But I've been a fan of Baz's from the beginning. There's always a romantic tint to his films, and I'm decidedly unromantic. But there's more to his films than this (and you may have to bear with me, because there are several tangents coming up now.....)
First and foremost, I see his films being about transformation and redemption. Whether it's Fran who is transformed from the ugly duckling to the beautiful swan in Strictly Ballroom, or Lady Sarah who is transformed from the stuck up British trophy wife to the fighter in Australia. Redemption in the form of Scott Hastings standing up for his beliefs in artistic expression, Satine as she moves from prostitute to lover in Moulin Rouge, or the Drover as he learns to express his love for the woman and the child in Australia - they are powerful stories and ones that I'm sure we can all find in our own lives.
And then he paints them with such magic. Australia by no means has the glitz of Moulin Rouge, the sequins of Ballroom or the shimmer of Romeo and Juliette (or the script), but it still has a fantasy about it, the colours, the movement and the scenery.
And beyond that is 'the message'. Quite upfront is the story of the Stolen Generations. Non-Australian's won't be familiar with it, but the Stolen Generations represent decades of Aboriginal children who were stolen from their families and put into missions and trained for service - on the basis that their black mothers were emotionally incapable of caring for them, and intellectually incapable of educating them. These children were not only stolen from their families and friend, but also from their countries and their dreamings, which has lead to unspeakable hurt and discrimination in this country, and a lack of connection for these children with their past. And for many years it has made me very ashamed to call myself Australian. I've never felt I have a right to be here, let alone belong here.
This was, in a very large way, put to rest when the Australian PM, Kevin Rudd, took the bold step of apologising to the Stolen Generations. Something that has been desired by Aboriginal groups, and the Australian community as a whole for a very, very long time. But no politician has had the courage to do this. The closest was a former PM Paul Keating (a total legend), who gave the Redfern Address, many years ago.
But without the apology, I don't know if this film could have been made the way it has. It has started a real healing for this country. Nic is referred to in the film as the Rainbow Serpent, come to heal the land - and I hope this is what is happening here now.
But off on another tangent, there was horrible, hate-filled death on the streets of Mumbai this morning. I love India, really love it, and I send all my best wishes to those affected by today's bombs, and hope that anyone thinking of doing something likewise remembers Baz's lessons of redemption and solidarity.
This is Keating's address. It makes my cry like a baby every time.
(and this is meant to be a food blog?)
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