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The Cinema of Attractions (film essay)

Posted on June 30, 2013 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (0)

During the early stages of film production, audiences demonstrated a fascination with moving pictures, now referred to as the “cinema of attractions”. This period emphasised visual spectacle and unique imagery, over narrative structure (Gunning). The first film-makers were more aware of their audience, and were creating images of fantasy and exoticism, specifically for them to see. After 1910, however, film theorists observed a decisive shift towards theatrical storyte...

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Caleb & Sweeney Todd (lit/film essay)

Posted on February 25, 2013 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (0)

The gothic sublime defines itself in contrast with romanticism, particularly in its exploration of human psychology, criminality and madness. While the romantics associated the sublime experience with external forces of nature and divinity, gothic artists turned their gaze inwards, to the “tangled labyrinth of dreams”. Vijay Mishra writes that Gothicism represents a regression from the “soaring grandness” of Burkean sublimity, and into the deep chasm of fear and ...

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Sweeney Todd (film review)

Posted on February 10, 2013 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Set in the filthy streetscapes of Victorian London, Sweeney Todd (Tim Burton, 2005) might be described as a “horror musical”, revolving around themes of revenge, cannibalism and hairdressing. The film, like most of Burton’s work, is black humoured and extravagantly gothic. All of the characters, from Depp’s blood-thirsty barber, to Rickman’s sadistic Judge Turpin, are deathly pale, with black rings around their eyes. The city of London is a nightmaris...

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The Exorcist & The Silence of the Lambs (film essay)

Posted on November 2, 2012 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Horror films often portray images of intense violence and gore. This filmic technique is not unique to the genre of course, as action films, thrillers, and especially war dramas also depict scenes of violence. However, in those cases, the violence is contextual. The threat applies to the characters in the film, and works more as a plot device than a subject of examination. In horror films, the violence is universal. It reaches past the screen, and affects the audience members viscerally...

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Bronson (film essay)

Posted on October 18, 2012 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Voyeurism in the “True Crime” Narrative

Charlie Bronson, “Britain’s most violent prisoner”, has spent 38 years beyond bars, most of it restricted to solitary confinement. Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2008 film is a dramatic recounting of Bronson’s life, and an example of the “true crime” narrative. True crime texts are generally inspired by media headlines, which reflect press and public obsessions with v...

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Night of the Living Dead (film essay)

Posted on August 13, 2012 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (0)

When Night of the Living Dead (Romero 1968) was first released, American society was in a state of cultural and racial conflict. It was fighting two wars – the war from within and the war from without. One was being fought amongst its own people, expressed through the racial clashes between black and white Americans. The other war was being fought in the far away jungles of Vietnam, against the faceless, nameless enemy dwelling in the shadows.

 

The...

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District 9 (film essay)

Posted on June 25, 2012 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The aliens encountered in District 9 (Blomkamp 2009) are treated with the same level of distain and indifference usually reserved for refugees and ethnic minorities. While the majority of “alien invasion” films depict humanity’s initial contact with extra-terrestrial life, District 9 concerns itself with the aftermath of “first encounter”; the process and struggle of co-existence. The film is set in South Africa and bears significant similarit...

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The Proposition (film essay)

Posted on June 18, 2012 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (0)

The Proposition (Hillcoat 2005) is bleak, brutal depiction of Australia’s colonial history, which challenges the romanticism of the bushranger legend. The film presents ideas of heroism, villainy and innocence with a degree of ambiguity (Stadler 68). This moral vagueness is manifested through the characters of the film.


The protagonists struggle to do right, but are tortured and oppressed by the forces of man and nature; meanwhile, the truly despicable cha...

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The History of Australian Cinema (film essay)

Posted on June 7, 2012 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

The Early Australian Film Industry

Australia was quite prolific during the silent era of movies, along with America and France. It even produced the first full-length feature film, in the form of 1906’s The Story of the Kelly Gang (Tait). During the 1920s, however, there was a critical decline in audience attendance rates. Following World War I, there was simply a lack of interest in Australian stories, which was further aggravated by the banning of bushra...

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They're a Weird Mob (film essay)

Posted on April 1, 2012 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (0)

They’re a Weird Mob (Michael Powell 1966) presents a unique portrait of Australian society, through the eyes of an Italian immigrant. It takes place during the period of the White Australia policy, before the nation adopted multiculturalism. Thus, racial, religious, and geographic divisions are still quite pronounced, and a feeling of “us against them” pervades many of the characters. The film depicts Australia as insulated and resistant to the...

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Terminator 2 & Beauty and the Beast (film essay)

Posted on October 14, 2011 at 4:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Masculinity is a difficult concept to define, especially with the way traditional gender roles have shifted and transformed through the latter half of the 20th century. Typically, it refers to the possession of male characteristics and qualities, such as physical strength or aggression. It might also be associated with ideas of leadership, virility and assertiveness. Since femininity is sometimes seen as submissive or dependant, masculine modes will often strive to be dominan...

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Fight Club (film essay)

Posted on September 2, 2011 at 4:45 AM Comments comments (0)

The term “masochism” refers to the condition of deriving pleasure from pain. A masochist is a person who feels pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from receiving physical or emotional abuse. In the film Fight Club (Fincher 1999), the ability to endure violence or torment is marked as a symbol of masculinity. Indeed, the group’s doctrine seems to revolve around the breaking down of one’s body and mind, so that it may be rebuilt into something stronge...

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White Noise & Pulp Fiction (film/lit essay)

Posted on June 4, 2011 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The novel White Noise and the film Pulp Fiction are postmodern texts that utilise a “[montage] of tones, styles, and voices” to examine the “terror and wild humour as the essential tone of contemporary America” (Lentricchia). Both texts employ pastiche and intertextuality to explore the consumerist, media-saturated societies in which they inhabit. They also contrast themes of human violence and amorality with a postmodern self-awareness. In ot...

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Akira (film essay)

Posted on May 26, 2011 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The Japanese anime film Akira reflects a “love-hate attitude toward monsters” that suggests ambivalence about the future of Japan (Napier). This essay will explore this interpretation of the film, drawing on Japan’s rise as an industrial nation in the aftermath of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings. It will examine Japan’s role as a global superpower, contrasting it with cultural feelings of victimisation, antagonism and fear at the hands of the West. These co...

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The Killer (film essay)

Posted on April 17, 2011 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

In The Killer, the tendency for violence to coincide with episodes of heightened emotion reflects wider social tensions in Hong Kong between 1984 and 1997. This essay will discuss how the film responds to Hong Kong’s political climate at the time of its release; examining religious themes as well as the depiction of Chinese masculinity and male bonding.


The Killer is a classic tale of loyal...

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Mother Courage and Her Children (lit essay)

Posted on April 10, 2011 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

The early decades of the twentieth century were marked by significant challenges to, and anxiety about, traditional definitions of gender, which were reflected in the literature and art of the time. This essay will discuss the treatment of gender in Mother Courage and Her Children (Brecht 1939). It will focus of the portrayal of femininity in the play; examining character development and attitudes towards gender within the setting of play and when it was composed.


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Modern Times (film essay)

Posted on April 4, 2011 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Discussion Questions


Almost a decade after the introduction of “talkies”, Modern Times was released as largely a silent film. The only audible dialogue (apart from the singing waiters at the end) comes from machines, like radios and television screens. Why do you think Chaplin chose to keep most of the film silent? And how does it relate to the themes of the film?

This first question focuses on the context of the film. It is...

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Seven Samurai (film essay)

Posted on March 28, 2011 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

This report will outline what is meant by the terms “high culture” and “popular culture”, comparing and contrasting their relevance to Asian cinema. In defining these terms, it will also refer to the film Seven Samurai.


High culture refers to a set of artistic products held in the highest esteem by an elite culture; usually aristocracy or intelligentsia. It is contrasted with popular or low culture, which supposedly appeals to the l...

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The Celebration (film essay)

Posted on October 15, 2010 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (0)

The Celebration is the first entry in the Danish film movement, Dogma 95. Film-makers Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg crafted the Dogme Manifesto (or “Vow of Chastity”) in an effort to “cleanse cinema of an obsessive concern for technique” and “rehabilitate a cinema which foregrounded the story [and] the inner life of its characters” (Hjort). They rejected the “superficiality and ‘trickery’” of mainstream film...

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Hound of the Baskervilles (lit essay)

Posted on October 4, 2010 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Discussion Questions


How does the author, Arthur Conan Doyle, depict class differences?

This question feeds in directly into Victorian attitudes, both through the minds of the author and his characters. As educated, white males Doyle and Holmes seem to belittle virtually every other human experience. Though they rely on the lower classes for tasks of manual labour, neither mans treats them with very much dignity. This question is design...

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