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The Aboriginal voice in Baz Luhrmann's left-leaning Australia (2008)

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Arguing that Baz Luhrmann's Australia (2008) is a big-budget, non-independent film espousing a left-leaning political ideology in its non-racist representations of Aborigines on film, this paper suggests the addition of a ‘fourth formation’ to the 1984 Moore and Muecke model is warranted. According to their theorizing, racist ‘first formation’ films promote policies of assimilation whereas ‘second formation’ films avoid overt political statements in favour of more acceptable multicultural liberalism. Moore and Muecke's seemingly ultimate ‘third formation films’, however, blatantly foreground the director's leftist political dogma in a necessarily low budget, independent production. Australia, on the other hand, is an advance on the third formation because its left-leaning feminized Aboriginal voice is safely backed by a colossal production budget and indicates a transformation in public perceptions of Aboriginal issues. Furthermore, this paper argues that the use of low-cost post-production techniques such as voice-over narration by racially appropriate individuals and the use of diegetic song in Australia work to ensure the positive reception of the left-leaning message regarding the Stolen Generations. With these devices Luhrmann effectively counters the claims of right-wing denialists such as Andrew Bolt and Keith Windschuttle.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education, University of Western Sydney, Australia

Publication date: 2012-08-01

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