Beneath Clouds Film Analysis

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The reconciliation period in Australia in the 1990s gave rise to a number of feature films that explicitly engage with the themes of reconciliation, and in particular with issues surrounding understandings of history and Indigenous identity. The two feature films on which this article focuses, Beneath Clouds (Sen 2002) and Samson & Delilah (Thornton 2009), each centre on a pair of young Indigenous characters struggling to find their place in a world characterised by disadvantage and disconnection from mainstream society. The protagonists of the two films make a transition from adolescence to adulthood at a time in Australia that is also experiencing a state of transition—the reconciliation period. Both films are directed by Indigenous directors…show more content…
He explains that “moving images, including those framed by car windows, give us the possibility of seeing landscape as a variable rather than fixed, as in landscape paintings…[and that]…in the intervals between sites stories can emerge” (2004, 89). This reading encourages us to view the landscape as loaded with pluralistic values. Beneath Clouds demonstrates this in a number of ways. Along the journey Lena and Vaughn see a picturesque spot featuring vegetation covered cliffs with a white family in the foreground on the side of the road. Vaughn looks up to the cliffs and tells Lena a story relayed to him by his grandfather—the story tells of Indigenous people that were pushed to their deaths from the cliffs by white settlers. At this point the land symbolises not only a history of oppression and violence, but also acts as an important factor that influences Vaughn in his resistance to dominant white culture. The white family appear unaware of the violent connotations Vaughn reads into the landscape and the land takes on a new meaning—one that is complicated and ensures Vaughn’s continued resistance—for it is not history alone that drives him, it is what he sees as continued ignorance of white people towards that history. This spot is simultaneously a site of colonial violence and one of continued ignorance of white people towards that history. Lena and Vaughn move through the landscape at a slow pace for much of the film, highlighting their need to take time understanding the ways in which history has embedded the land with a problematic and troubled past, and the way it can inform the future. In this sense comparisons can be drawn to both Rabbit Proof Fence (Noyce 2002) and Yolngu Boy (Johnson 2000), films in which the young protagonists travel through the land predominately on foot, with this being an essential

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