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form y separately published work icon Holy Smoke single work   film/TV  
Adaptation of Holy Smoke : A Novel Anna Campion , Jane Campion , 1999 single work novel
Issue Details: First known date: 1999... 1999 Holy Smoke
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

During a backpacking holiday in India, Ruth, a young Australian woman, experiences a spiritual awakening at an ashram. Convinced that she has found peace, harmony, and purpose, she decides to stay on with her newfound guru, much to the horror of her family in Australia. Luring her back to suburban Sydney on false pretenses, they employ the services of P.J., an American 'cult-exiter'. The deprogramming encounter that takes place over three days in a shack on an isolated outback farm becomes a battle of wits and wills over spirituality and sexuality.

Returning to the themes of dysfunctional family life that Jane Campion focused on in her first feature film Sweetie, the Campion sisters employ cultural stereotypes to contrast the exotic appeal of Eastern spiritualism for the idealistic Ruth with her family's lack of understanding and crassness. The narrative's central concern with the search for the meaning of life is juxtaposed with moments of high melodrama and with comedic elements drawn from the repertoire of cliched Australian 'types' that were a commonplace of Australian cinema in the nineties. Though Campion clearly demonstrated her cinematic and technical proficiency as a director, some critics consider the story to be somewhat clumsy and overambitious.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

First known date: 1999

Works about this Work

Grieving Secularism : Jane Campion's Secular Daughters in Spiritual Spaces Sophie Sunderland , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Studies in Australasian Cinema , vol. 6 no. 1 2012; (p. 73-85)
'New Zealand-born director Jane Campion's two feature films set in Australia, Holy Smoke (1999) and Sweetie (1989), each construct the desert or outback as a site of spiritual renewal. Set in contemporary contexts, both films reproduce the cultural myth of the Australian desert as the nation's 'spiritual' centre. For Holy Smoke, it is an imposed site of recovery and renewal following the enticements of the protagonist's decision to join an ashram on the tourist trail in India, whereas in Sweetie the desert is an escape from the neurosis inspired by suburban familial dysfunction. For both films, the desert 'heart' functions as a spiritual repository and site of transformation accessible to disillusioned, grief-stricken, suburban women. This article argues that these films construct white Anglo-Celtic women's embodiments as sites of anxiety about the limits of secularism and cultural space. Importantly, the narrative construction of barren, tasteless suburban homes and familial dysfunction produces a particular and partial representation of suburbia as banal, neurotic and exclusively occupied by white Anglo-Celtic 'mainstream' families. By focusing on the figure of grief and emptiness borne by women that underpins this representational strategy, I explore the ways in which the Derridean conception of proleptic mourning serves as a useful model for understanding links between secularism, space and loss. Here, secularism is negotiated through the construction of real, imagined and anticipated loss, including losses of patriarchal, white Christian hegemony within Australian cultural politics. In this sense, the desert is spatialized as an incursion upon melancholic anguish about the opening up of cultural space to difference.' (Author's abstract)
Through an Australian Lens Lisa French , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Wanderings in India : Australian Perspectives 2012; (p. 149-164)

'In the half-light, a black man’s hand strokes Ruth’s neck. She flicks him away like an insect, oblivious to the sensual energy she radiates. This is how filmmaker Jane Campion introduces Ruth (Kate Winslet), the central character of her 1999 film, Holy Smoke! This opening scene, of Ruth on a bus amidst the colour and vigour of a busy Indian city can be read not only as representing an experience common to Western women abroad in Southeast Asia but also as emphasising that Ruth is a luminous and irresistible beauty. This chapter begins by outlining the role India plays in Holy Smoke! (the film and the novel), then gives an overview of what makes this an Australian film (despite being made with international stars and money), followed by a discussion of how Campion uses the luminousness of her film’s central character to explore Western female experience,and finally, examines how the film explores ideas of how men and women might exist together in the world—or, what it is to be human.' (Introduction)

The Corpse is in Australia, or The Cinematic Death of White Supremacy Thomas A. Foster , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Senses of Cinema , September no. 64 2012;
'Aussies Go Bolly' : Australian Journeys through Indian Cinemascape Amit Sarwal , Reema Sarwal , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: India and Australia : Bridging Different Worlds 2011; (p. 178-195)
India and Australia : Cross Cultural Connections Malati Mathur , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 70 no. 3 2010; (p. 37-45)
Explores the Indian influence in Australian literature, writers, and culture.
Aftershock and the Desert Landscape in Heaven's Burning, The Last Days of Chez Nous, Holy Smoke, Serenades, Yolgnu Boy and The Missing Felicity Collins , Therese Davis , 2004 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Cinema after Mabo 2004; (p. 75-93)
In this chapter Collins and Davis 'are intersted in how a familiar icon of Australian cinema, the landscape (in particular the desert landscape, the outback), is suddenly made strange (unbearable even) by a historic event and how this raises questions to do with historical amnesia, shock and memory in a national cinema. In order to sneak up on on this post-Mabo experience of aftershock, we want to place these films in relation to threee critical categories which have been important in making sense of the ad hoc diversity of Australian films.' Source : Australian Cinema After Mabo (2004)
Never a Native : Deconstructing Home and Heart in Holy Smoke Sue Gillett , 2000 single work criticism
— Appears in: Senses of Cinema , no. 5 2000;
A discussion on the portrayal of the relationship between woman, place and belonging in the 1999 film Holy Smoke.
India and Australia : Cross Cultural Connections Malati Mathur , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 70 no. 3 2010; (p. 37-45)
Explores the Indian influence in Australian literature, writers, and culture.
y separately published work icon Jane Campion Deb Verhoeven , New York (City) : Routledge Taylor & Francis Group , 2008 Z1786085 2008 single work biography 'Jane Campion, one of the most celebrated auters of modern cinema, was the first female director to be awarded the prestigious Palme d'Or. In this first detailed account of Jane Campion's career, Verhoeven examines how contemporary film directors 'fashion' themselves as auters- through their personal interactions with the media, in their choice of projects, emphasis on particular filmmaking techniques and finally in the promotion of their films. Through analysis of key scenes from Campion's films such as The Piano, In the Cut, Sweetie and Holy Smoke, Verhoeven introduces the key debates surrounding this controversial and often experimental director. Features a career overview, a filmography and an extended interview with Campion on her approach to creativity.' (Publisher's blurb)
Brazen Brides, Grotesque Daughters, Treacherous Mothers : Women's Funny Business in Australian Cinema from Sweetie to Holy Smoke Felicity Collins , 2002 single work criticism
— Appears in: Senses of Cinema , November-December no. 23 2002; Womenvision : Women and the Moving Image in Australia 2003; (p. 167-182)
Contemporary Australian women filmmakers rework the romantic comedy genre to incorporate women and their experiences.
Last amended 8 Oct 2014 15:01:37
  • c
    South Asia, South and East Asia, Asia,
  • Australian Outback, Central Australia,
  • Sydney, New South Wales,
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