Last week I was intending to post a bit about the online racism debate, which had a new flurry (surrounding a novel by Patricia Wrede, and attempts to defend it by Lois McMaster Bujold) which seemed to me to be a lot of people with good intentions and righteous enthusiasm (on both 'sides') getting drawn into a quite unhelpful and destructive pattern of oppositional argument and accusation. Unfortunately, its pretty hard to criticise the debate without being drawn into it, which is just one of the reasons I find it so counter-productive.
So instead, I'm just going to say that if racism is an issue that concerns you, or if you just want to see an excellent, very moving, film, that you would find your time well spent in going to see Samson and Delilah, currently in cinemas in Australia (you in the rest of the world will have to wait, quite likely until some sort of arthouse film festival). This is an very well made film, by relatively new screen writer and director Warwick Thornton (doctor_k_ and I loved his short film Nana when we saw it last year).
The films approach to the issues faced by its young Aboriginal protagonists is unflinching and not didactic or judgmental. It doesn't lecture you about its issues, just peels back the bandage and shows you the wound. doctor_k_ and I found ourselves in tears leaving the cinema, I'm finding the same now just remembering it now. Though admittedly we are in no way able to judge the emotional impact of the film objectively, our experience was strongly tinged with missing Alice Springs and the beautiful country around it, and the memories of our time there, to the point we kept experiencing rushes of emotion at locations as mundane as the Coles car park. Tom is able to give a more objective assessment though, and he liked it too
And besides that, some excellent performances (we were particularly pleased to see Mitjili Napanangka Gibson again, who played the title role in Nana, in the film), some very fine cinematography that showed the beautiful landscape and flora and fauna of the central desert without lingering on it or sentimentalising it, and very assured, precise combination of direction and script that made the film seem unhurried and slow, but never wasted a moment, and managed to pack a huge number of issues facing the central Australian Indigenous community into the film in a natural unforced way.
The artistic merits of this film are considerable, and I definitely would recommend it purely as well-made cinema. But it is also a film that can communicate many of the issues in Central Australia, issues that we have touched us very deeply and that we have sometimes found hard to communicate to our friends. Go and see this film, and tell people about it.
And apart from the film, I also recommend listening to Jimmy Little's slow groovy heartfelt cover of an Australian classic anti-racist song, and slowly dancing around your office.