Samson and Delilah (Again)
I wrote about the taxpayer funded Australian film Samson and Delilah a couple of weeks ago.
Gary Johns has written a review of the film. The review appears in today’s Australian.
Here’s a bit to get you started:
The film opens with a typical day in Samson’s life. He wakes to reggae music from his brother’s band playing on the porch of the archetypal concrete box house. He sniffs a can of petrol. There’s nothing to do, no work, no school. Instead, Samson follows young Delilah around as she cares for her grandmother. He is clearly taken with her, but cannotor will not say so. Instead, Samson throws stones at Delilah to catch her attention.
The next day, Samson whacks a band member over the head with a lump of wood, and in retaliation his brother beats him senseless. Samson takes his filthy rubber mat and blanket across the road and camps outside Delilah’s concrete box. Delilah’s grandmother dies, Delilah is beaten by other women in punishment for the death; the two steal a four-wheel-drive and head for town. In town Delilah is kidnapped by youths, possibly raped and certainly beaten. Nevertheless, the next day she returns to Samson who has taken shelter under the bridge on a dry river bed. He did not think to look for her. Next day, they wander out into traffic and she is run down. He did not think to look for her. The ambulance people return her, patched up.
One critic said it was “one of the bravest Australian films I’ve ever seen”. And so it was, as a documentary. Except in one respect: Delilah enters a church (suspiciously like the John Flynn church in Alice Springs) and then wanders out under the stern eye of a clergyman, who offers no help. If this is meant to convey a message about the missions, it fails. The missions saved more than souls in outback Australia, they saved lives.
Thornton says: “As far as telling a story that’s realistic, I needed to go all the way and not hold back on how grim things are. Most 14-year-olds in Alice are walking around with the knowledge of a 90-year-old, from what they’ve experienced. They’re bulletproof.”
No they are not, they are traumatised and despondent.
Any answers, Warwick? How did you escape? What is your optimistic story? How did you learn to read and write? Do you live on country, totally dependent on the white man’s petrol and canned food?
Like many films and documentaries before it, Samson and Delilah succeeds in showing the hopelessness and violence of life in remote aboriginal communites. Like those others, it offers no solutions.
Despite the rantings of deranged critics, writing from the comfort of their Melbourne apartments, this film offers neither joy nor hope.
Film makers can be agents of change. They can and must do better than simply preaching or pointing accusing fingers.