This article reads Richard J. Frankland's Stone Bros. (2009) as a critique of romanticized
notions of primitive Aboriginal spirituality. Through the unlikely arena of
popular cinema, this irreverent stoner comedy draws viewer attention to the persistence
of notions of repressive authenticity, with particular reference to elements of
Aboriginal spirituality. I examine the film's parodic treatment of two central motifs:
the 'important' stones belonging to the two main characters - Aboriginal cousins
Eddie (Luke Carroll) and Charlie (Leon Burchill) - and Eddie's light skin colour.
Stone Bros. insists that anachronistic ideals of Aboriginality continue to hold
currency for both indigenous and non-indigenous people in contemporary Australia.
In raising potentially uncomfortable issues for black and white Australians through
popular cinema Stone Bros. draws to viewers' attention the potentially negative
impacts of misplaced romanticisms on the nation's reconciliation process.
'In a reading of the Rolf de Heer film Ten Canoes this article explores the pervasive, contemporary challenge of culture difference and its representation. Focusing on notions of sacredness, as one node of extreme difference, the article argues that older formulations of sacredness which bifurcated spirit and flesh are now being replaced by more holistic understandings. As western film audiences engage with representations of difference in Indigenous cultures, a set of questions are raised: what is the nature of real dialogue between different cultures? Can such dialogues move beyond mute recording, or silent respect, or automatic celebration? Can they enter a new space of dialectical relationship in which different cultural perspectives can be fully investigated, without making the other culture a static, or oversimplified or iconic abstraction?' (Author's introduction)
'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)
In this article's Vaultage section, Peter Malone reflects on the themes and characters
of John Duigan's Far East (1982). Malone offers a synthesis of responses to the film,
whilst highlighting the film's cinematic and cultural points of reference - namely,
Casablanca (Curtiz, 1942) and developing Australasian relations.' (Editor's abstract)