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Jedda Essay

In: Film and Music

Submitted By danoooosh
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Discuss how Charles Chauvel’s ‘Jedda’ is a product of, and placed within, the Australian film industry at the time of its production. (What was this period like and what influence did this period have on the selected film?) How might Aborigines find truer representation in Australian film and other popular cultural mediums?

By Danielle Gold

Charles Chauvel’s ‘Jedda,’ (1955) is a film firmly placed within the dominant ideology of its time, limited by the otherness of its chosen subject matter. As a medium of cultural production, film has a necessary relationship with the hegemony of its own culture; sometimes progressive and other times simply perpetuating. As a representation of the debate over the ethics and feasibility of assimilation, ‘Jedda’ reflects the failed premise of its time, the hierarchical approach to culture and civilization perpetuated by white Europeans. Despite this hamartia it has been applauded with “the only dignified Aboriginal male lead that has been allowed to exist in a film made by white directors in Australia,” (Johnson, 1987:48) what is certainly a progressive allowance (though the word is problematic). It has become evident that true representation of the Aborigine in Australian popular culture is dependent on undoing the dualistic understanding that establishes their otherness.

Culture is a discourse of common iconography. Signifiers of language, appearance, values, history, cuisine, beliefs… are inscribed, developed and perpetuated by popular media. In Nationalism and Literature Sarah Corse uses canonical texts; “the American The Great Gatsby and the Canadian Fruits of the Earth,” to contrast “American individualism… and Canadian social identification.” Corse contends the differences are “not natural but part of a process of national distinction,” that the canonical novel helps to construct “the form of the canon,”...

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