Thursday, July 16, 2009

Samson and Delilah

This is not the traditional Biblical tale. Samson and Delilah are two Aborigine teenagers, and the film is their story.

The film is funded by a number of Australian organisations, including Central Australia Aborigine Media Association (CAAMA).

To say that I enjoyed this would not be true. It is very definitely not entertainment.

The film opens at dawn in an aborigine village. Samson wakes, cuddles his small tin of petrol, gets out of bed, walks outside and plays (very non-musically) with his brother’s electric guitar, gets hit by his brother… The same scene is repeated perhaps ten or fifteen times. Delilah wakes, takes medicine to her grandmother, feeds her, takes her to the health clinic, sits with her as she paints… The same scene is repeated several times. The repetition is modified slightly, the communal phone rings and no one answers it. The art gallery agent arrives to collect the grandmother’s latest painting, pays her bill of $25 at the store in return. Samson’s brothers wake, start playing drums and guitars; the same tune every day, the same tune endlessly.

As an introduction to the story it could not be bettered. It creates exactly the sense of boredom and hopelessness of life in a very remote Aborigine community. And that, really, is the film. It presents a portrait of Aborigine life, as it really is.

The prevalence and impact of illiteracy, petrol sniffing addiction, teenage pregnancy, rejection by “white” Australian society, unemployment, homelessness, crime – real, cultural, and imaginary – and rejection by the family is all there.

The painting collected by the agent is seen in an art gallery window priced at $22,000.

No, not enjoyable. It is a film that the likes of MK should have as compulsory viewing.

I give it a 9; most of all for not shirking the truth.

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