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form y separately published work icon My First Wife single work   film/TV  
Issue Details: First known date: 1984... 1984 My First Wife
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

When John, a composer, is told by his wife Helen that she has been having an affair, his world begins to collapse around him. Instead of attempting to address the issues that led his wife to seek solace with another man, John pursues a negative response. To make matters worse his father is dying in hospital. As John becomes more and more morose, his behaviour also becomes increasingly unpredictable, leading to incidents that are underpinned by potential violence. Unable to continue living with her husband, Helen and their daughter move out. John's attempt to suicide by overdosing on pills fails and he instead wakes up to find himself in a psychiatric unit. It is not until his father dies that John is finally able to gain perspective on the reasons for the break-down of his marriage and the extent of his loss.

(Source: Australian Screen)

Notes

  • Paul Byrnes (Australian Screen) notes that while Cox and Ellis shared the 1984 AFI Best Original Screenplay award, Cox later maintained that Ellis had little to do with the final script.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Form: screenplay
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon 3 Screenplays Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 1998 Z510352 1998 selected work screenplay A collection of screenplays for three Paul Cox films. Each is co-written with a different collaborator: John Clarke (Lonely Hearts), Bob Ellis (My First Wife), and Barry Dickens (A Woman's Tale). Strawberry Hills : Currency Press , 1998 pg. 63-121

Works about this Work

'An Idleness Bordering on the Wacky' : Paul Cox and the Contradictions of an Australian Art Cinema Adrian Martin , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Continuum : Journal of Media & Cultural Studies , vol. 24 no. 5 2010; (p. 653 - 665)
'This study of the Australian filmmaker Paul Cox aims to tease out a number of contradictions in the institution of Australian art cinema from the 1970s to the present day. It looks at the cultural, social and historical factors which position Cox as a supposedly 'maligned' artist; the interpretive work of film criticism and analysis that helps construct the reception of his career; and recent changes in the arthouse sector that have ushered in first a critique and then a rehabilitation of his oeuvre. Beyond this socially defined circle of art, artist and art cinema, the publicly 'repressed' aspects of Cox's cinema that tend more to resemble the excluded arena of avant-garde production are explored.' (Author's abstract)
The Persistent Maverick Maria Stratford , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: Senses of Cinema , no. 53 2009;
Paul Cox : An Appreciation Roger Ebert , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: Senses of Cinema , no. 53 2009;
'A European Heart' : Exile, Isolation, and Interiority in the Life and Films of Paul Cox Marek Haltof , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: Diasporas of Australian Cinema 2009; (p. 127-135)

'Although they possess 'a European heart', writes director Paul Cox of his films, their roots are firmly in Australia (1998a: 82). In this chapter, I attend to the diasporic aspects of the biography and early films of Paul Cox, exploring well-known works such as Kostas (1979), Lonely Hearts (1982) and Man of Flowers (1983), and paying particular attention to My First Wife (1984). This largely historical chapter works to better comprehend how such films, from the 1970s and 1980s, 'construct' Paul Cox as an exilic, 'homeless' Australian film-maker. These films, well received by Australian and international audiences and critics, popularized Cox's name in the art house world as an Australian auteur making subtle films about human relationships, as 'Australia's Ingmar Bergman' (Chipperfield 1989: 12; Rattigan 1991: 224-26). It is through the recurring themes of exile and isolation, the diasporic motifs of memory and migration, and filmic strategies deploying the construction of mental landscapes and 'European' interiors that the personal relationship between Cox the film-maker and his adopted homeland is to be understood. ' (Introduction)

Affairs Of The Heart : The Oedipal Films of Paul Cox Susan Barber , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: Metro Magazine , December no. 163 2009; (p. 130-134)
'An essay is presented on the films by Paul Cox including "Man of Flowers" and "My First Wife." It examines the characters and complex relationships of Oedipal narratives. It explores the significance of the characters that portray the affairs of the heart and mind. It discusses the aspects which show that Cox's films have significant maturity.' (Publication abstract)
'A European Heart' : Exile, Isolation, and Interiority in the Life and Films of Paul Cox Marek Haltof , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: Diasporas of Australian Cinema 2009; (p. 127-135)

'Although they possess 'a European heart', writes director Paul Cox of his films, their roots are firmly in Australia (1998a: 82). In this chapter, I attend to the diasporic aspects of the biography and early films of Paul Cox, exploring well-known works such as Kostas (1979), Lonely Hearts (1982) and Man of Flowers (1983), and paying particular attention to My First Wife (1984). This largely historical chapter works to better comprehend how such films, from the 1970s and 1980s, 'construct' Paul Cox as an exilic, 'homeless' Australian film-maker. These films, well received by Australian and international audiences and critics, popularized Cox's name in the art house world as an Australian auteur making subtle films about human relationships, as 'Australia's Ingmar Bergman' (Chipperfield 1989: 12; Rattigan 1991: 224-26). It is through the recurring themes of exile and isolation, the diasporic motifs of memory and migration, and filmic strategies deploying the construction of mental landscapes and 'European' interiors that the personal relationship between Cox the film-maker and his adopted homeland is to be understood. ' (Introduction)

'An Idleness Bordering on the Wacky' : Paul Cox and the Contradictions of an Australian Art Cinema Adrian Martin , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Continuum : Journal of Media & Cultural Studies , vol. 24 no. 5 2010; (p. 653 - 665)
'This study of the Australian filmmaker Paul Cox aims to tease out a number of contradictions in the institution of Australian art cinema from the 1970s to the present day. It looks at the cultural, social and historical factors which position Cox as a supposedly 'maligned' artist; the interpretive work of film criticism and analysis that helps construct the reception of his career; and recent changes in the arthouse sector that have ushered in first a critique and then a rehabilitation of his oeuvre. Beyond this socially defined circle of art, artist and art cinema, the publicly 'repressed' aspects of Cox's cinema that tend more to resemble the excluded arena of avant-garde production are explored.' (Author's abstract)
Paul Cox : An Appreciation Roger Ebert , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: Senses of Cinema , no. 53 2009;
The Persistent Maverick Maria Stratford , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: Senses of Cinema , no. 53 2009;
Affairs Of The Heart : The Oedipal Films of Paul Cox Susan Barber , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: Metro Magazine , December no. 163 2009; (p. 130-134)
'An essay is presented on the films by Paul Cox including "Man of Flowers" and "My First Wife." It examines the characters and complex relationships of Oedipal narratives. It explores the significance of the characters that portray the affairs of the heart and mind. It discusses the aspects which show that Cox's films have significant maturity.' (Publication abstract)

Awards

1985 won AWGIE Awards Film Original
1985 Winner New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards
1984 Winner Australian Film Institute Awards Best Screenplay, Original
Last amended 30 Aug 2017 09:38:58
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