Thursday, January 14, 2010

beneath clouds - a great movie

I watched a wonderful movie on Maori TV the other night - Beneath Clouds.

I've been thinking about it for a week or so now. I loved the space the movie had - both the cinematography, the soundtrack, and the dialogue. There was room to move in there, to breathe, it was quiet. I identified with both characters, the actors were amazing.

I'm going to talk about the movie now.

The descriptions of the movie i have seen seemed slightly skewed to me.

From SBS Films
Lena (Dannielle Hall) has an absent Irish father she longs to see and an Aboriginal mother she finds disgusting. When she breaks away, she meets up with petty crim Vaughn (Damien Pitt) who’s just escaped from low security prison to reluctantly visit his dying mother. Blonde and light-skinned, Lena is remains in denial about her Aboriginal heritage; Vaughn is an angry young man with a grudge against all whites. An uneasy relationship begins to form as they hit the road heading to Sydney, taking them on a journey that’s as emotional as it is physical, as revealing as it is desperate.
and the listener
"...follows Lena, a young  girl who shuns her aboriginal mother and, in the process, her entire heritage and heads to Sydney hoping to find her Irish father."
I'm not saying that that didn't happen - it's just that it seems a slightly surface way of seeing the movie. For me there were deeper layers than that. For instance, i didn't feel that Lena had abandoned her aboriginal heritage, or rejected it. When the aboriginal woman askes her who are her people, she just looked at her, but it wasn't with disgust at having her aboriginal heritage 'outed', it was amazment that someone had noticed and seen the inside her, not just her apparent outward appearance. Vaughn looks at her, surprised, and i think a little embarrased that he had not noticed her but only seen her at 'face value', much the same way that people treat him, as an aboriginal man.

The search that both lena and vaughn undertake for their parent's did happen, obviously, and on other levels it is a journey that is a common human experience, the search for knowledge and understanding, for truth and honesty. But, you know, i could be reading too much into it. Certainly the scene where Vaughan gets home to his mothers house is riveting and heart-rendering.

I enjoyed the fact that it felt like the movie ended in a unnatural place (for western time paradigms), with an apparent ending, but to me, we were part of the way through. And there didn't need to be more movie.

Skillfull story-telling and movie-making. Get it out on video - treat yourself.

From Native Networks
"Filmmaker Ivan Sen (Gamilaroi) drew on his own background as the child of an Aboriginal mother and an absent white father for the screenplay of his first feature-length work, Beneath Clouds, filmed on a $2.5 million dollar budget. This film about a teenager's search for her father won Sen global acclaim, screening at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and winning the Premiere First Movie Award at the 2002 Berlin Film Festival and the 2002 Best Director Award from the Australian Film Institute.
"Australian filmmaker Ivan Sen blends controlled composition with spontaneity in this interior road film, where two hitchhiking Aboriginal teens meet on the long road to Sydney. In this partly autobiographical film, his first feature, Sen mirrors the clash between Lena and Vaughn's personal ideals and disappointments through land, identity, and their tale-telling encounters along the way, always emphasizing the journey over the destination.
and a review
"Beneath Clouds strikes a chord in indigenous and non-indigenous minds and hearts by subtly revealing something all of us should remember: we each have the power of choice." - Bird Runningwater, Sundance Native Forum

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