Jedda (1955)

I wound up enjoying this somewhat more than I was expecting to. If, of course, you can still speak of enjoying a film like Jedda in the contemporary cultural climate we inhabit without feeling obliged to qualify that enjoyment with a reminder about the paternalism of it all and so forth… still, while the justice of this site’s description of the film as “A mixture of anthropological paternalism and old fashioned matinee adventure melodrama” is hard to deny, it would be unjust and churlish to deny the film’s historical position in Australian cinema; the first local colour film, the first Australian film at Cannes, and so forth. And, however paternalistic Chauvel’s attitudes may have been, one still can’t deny the importance of the film letting Aboriginal actors play their own people. Remember, twelve years after this film, Journey Out of Darkness had Ed Devereaux and Kamahl playing blackfellas, so… But yeah, in its own right I actually quite liked it; I picked it up at the library and thought OK, should really watch that, though I expected it to be a more historically dutiful than actually pleasurable experience. Still, once you get past some wooden acting and the overdone music, what you’re essentially lefft with is a western (kind of like The Searchers in reverse in some ways); it’s dated but it’s still basically a genre film rather than an earnest worthy drama about black/white relations or assimilation or anything like that. It wasn’t Samson and Delilah, you know.

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