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Rachel Perkins - Essay Example

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Rachel Perkins is an Aboriginal filmmaker who is tasked with portraying the Aboriginal experience through film. However, her films are not necessarily the “typical” Aboriginal film, in that her films do not always portray whites as the oppressors and the Aborigines as the oppressed. …
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Rachel Perkins
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Rachel Perkins

Download file to see previous pages... This certainly is an underlying theme in some of her films, including One Night the Moon (Aboriginal tracker is ignored by a white farmer, which leads to the death of the white farmer’s missing daughter) and Blood Brothers – Freedom Ride (Aboriginal individuals ride from town to town, telling the experience of the Aborigines, and urging action). However, her films are just as likely to either portray whites sympathetically, as in different segments of her documentary series, First Australians, or eschew white-Aboriginal conflict at all, in favor of universal themes. Radiance and Bran Nue Dae are excellent examples of this. Moreover, the overarching themes that she uses, when she does address the whites-Aboriginal conflicts, are that the Aboriginal peoples are resilient and able to overcome their social issues. This essay will detail how Rachel Perkins challenges the narrative of white oppression by demonstrating how her themes are focused around universality and overcoming adversity, as well as show how another theme, which relates to the overall themes of minimizing white oppression, that of the use of music, is a common thread through much of her films. Resilience and Activism First Australians was Perkins’ television documentary, and this film focuses upon the history of the Aborigine peoples, with every episode of the seven part series focusing upon a different region of Australia. Perkins did not re-enact the drama and violence that occurred, but, rather, made the film in true documentary fashion by using pictures, interviews, diaries and voiceover narration. In this film, one of the themes, which is prominent in the films of Perkins, was that of resilience. Perkins did not necessarily want to make a documentary about the horrors of the history of the Aborigine peoples, but, rather, wanted to show how the Aborigine people overcame their precarious situation. Perkins did this, as a filmmaker, but focusing upon individual stories which were personal and character-based. These stories were narrated through visual and written sources which were left behind by the settlers as they reflected upon the past. The scenes, which were narrated by Perkins, was interspersed by historian analysis, and these historians were experts on the Aborigine and the early settlers (Collins, 2010). As an example of the resilience that Perkins showed through her documentary, one of the stories that she focused on was that of Bennelong, an Aborigine person who was kidnapped by governor Arthur Phillip. Phillip later befriended Bennelong (Konoshi, 2009). This is an example of resilience, as the story of Bennelong is one of overcoming adversity. Bennelong was taken from his wife and kidnapped, yet he not only did not despair in this situation, but made friends with his captor and became a sort of ambassador and mediator between the British and the Aborigine peoples. While he was able to straddle both worlds – that of the white man and the Aborigine – he chose his own culture and died a respected elder in his tribe (Smith, 2009). That Perkins chose to focus on this story shows that she wanted to show triumph with the tragedy, and she sympathetically portrayed both Bennelong and his captor, later friend, Arthur Phillip (Konoshi, 2009). Another of the themes which is present this work is the interaction between the whites and the Aborigine population. While it certainly would have been easy for Perkins, as an Aborigine filmmaker, to show the Aborigine population as an oppressed people, and the whites as the oppressor, First Australians took a more nuanced approach. She chose to focus on the way that the whites and the Aborigine helped one another throughout the years. In addition to the story of Benn ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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