release of Gillian Armstrong's adaptation of Peter Carey's 1988 novel Oscar ® and Lucinda revives the 1970s period film and tries to compensate for the o historical amnesia, or national innocence, of the genre. A notable exception R to the genre's myth of innocent settlement of unoccupied territory is The ^ Chant ofJimmie Blacksmith (Fred Schepisi, 1978). N
The second category is the purgatorial narrative of failure and defeat C whereby a melancholic male protagonist merely survives (rather than con- p quers or transforms) a pitiless natural landscape and an exiled, insular society.9 If the loner-hero in Mad Max is the ultimate figure of subsistence, the survivor-heroes of Sunday Too Far Away and Gallipoli (Peter Weir, 1981) are emblematic of the bush battler's ethos of making a virtue out of defeat. The non-viable landscape ofthe outback and the defeated, melancholic male are revived by Russell Crowe and Ray Barrett in the operatic, deterritori-alised road movie Heaven's Burning (Craig Lahiff, 1997). Some elements of the ethos of survival are also evident in two contemporary Indigenous stories, Yolngu Boy and Serenades. But in the full-blown melodrama The Missing, outback redemption from European angst comes at such a price that the modest ethos of survival begins to look like good sense rather than moral failure.
The third category, to which less critical attention has been devoted, is comedy as the popular face of Australian cinema. The popularity of comedy stretches from the larrikin humour of The Sentimental Bloke (Raymond Longford, 1919), to the backblocks farce of the Hayseeds and the Rudd families of the 1930s and 1940s, to the urban ocker films of the 1970s, to the globe-trotting Paul Hogan in Crocodile Dundee (Peter Faiman, 1986), to the quirky suburban comedies of Strictly Ballroom (Baz Luhrmann, 1992), Muriel's Wedding (Paul J. Hogan, 1994) and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Stephan Elliott, 1994). The suburban grotesque is revived and transported to the outback in Holy Smoke (Jane Campion, 1999), deflating the spiritual aspirations embodied by the film's international stars, Kate Winslett and Harvey Keitel. The suburban wasteland, and its particular forms of family strife, provide the motive for a trip to the desert by a middle-aged woman and her father in The Last Days of Chez Nous (Gillian Armstrong, 1992). Their trip is more like a Sunday drive than a road movie, but like Holy Smoke, the prevailing ethos is down-to-earth g deflation of any impulse towards the sublime brought on by the expanse of js the desert.
" If we take the High Court's Mabo decision of 1992 as a historic event which caused a paradigm shift in our thinking about identity, the land, and
< belonging in Australia, then our relation to landscape, as the template of 2 national identity in Australian cinema, might also be undergoing a paradigm u shift. In order to understand the effect of this paradigm shift on the impact
< of the landscape film after Mabo, we use the terms 'shock', 'aftershock' and ^ 'afterwardness'.10 The shock recognition of terra nullius as a myth breaks £ through the protective shield of historical amnesia, but at the same time
< the shock itself entails a protective numbing effect. The initial recognition of the historical truth behind the 1992 Mabo decision came as a shock to the nation as it reassessed its founding myth. But the shock did not become traumatic until the rise of One Nation and the beginning of the history wars in the mid-1990s. The historical event only becomes traumatic afterwards, through the process of left-liberals and neo-conservatives repeatedly going back over what 'really happened' in the past without being able to agree on what it means now. This process of going back over historical events is experienced as traumatic because the highly contentious revision of the nation's past activates unconscious fantasies which, by definition, cannot be directly acknowledged.11
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