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Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Defending Cinephilia (4A) - Peter Hourigan sends in a postscript to his run through the movies of Shakespeare's HAMLET

Editor's Note: Peter's earlier piece on Hamlet on screen can be found if you click here.


How could I overlook one of the most recent versions of Hamlet, and one of the most exuberant? Vishal Bhardwaj is a director very much in the tradition of Hindi cinema, but who’s made versions of at least three works of Shakespeare, - Maqbool (Macbeth 2003), Omkara (Othello 2006) and Haider (Hamlet 2014.)  

In the case of Haider, things are rotten in the state of Kashmir. That ongoing conflict is the setting for this adaptation of Hamlet.  Bhardwaj largely ticks off all the iconic moments from the play, but also from within the traditions of Bollywood.  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Salman 1 and Salman 2, and they run a video store, where they love watching the tapes – cue in a small dance number.  There’s also “alas poor Yorick” and “To be or not to be” – but not as pastiche quotes, but part of the drama at that point.

Then there is the wonderful Mousetrap moment. The film has bristled with the tension of Kashmir, terrorist bombings and assassinations. But Haider has organised a performance to see if it will bring out the guilt in his uncle.  This is a full-scale Bollywood production number, in this case, Haider himself takes part as the principal performer. And Shahid Kapoor is a marvellously charismatic singer and dancer.  His song proclaims the poisonous situation – and unmistakenly hits home at the consciences of his uncle and his mother.

Shahid Kapoor, Haider
The setting is spectacular – outdoors, in a valley with the snow capped Kashmiri mountains behind.  It’s definitively Bollywood at its most flamboyant, but it’s also true to Shakespeare. There’s really not a gratuitous moment in the number, and it’s such an integral part of the whole drama. It’s also a strong political film, confronting the sensitive issue of Kashmir in a way rare in India.

So, here we have yet another example of how Shakespeare really is universal, and of meaning and value to so many cultures around the world.

Monday, 11 December 2017

AACTA Awards - Phillip Noyce accepts the Longford Lyell Award (complete)

Rabbit Proof Fence
A big shout out to the other Rabbit Proof Fence cast that couldn't be here tonight: Evelyn Sampi, Laura Monaghan, and Natasha Wanganeen and a special cheer to  Australia’s legend David Gulpilil.

David Gulpilil, Rabbit Proof Fence
When you get to my age and look back you realize just how many people have helped you along the way. So, I have many to thank.

I'd like to start with everyone around Australia who has ever contributed to tax revenue because you are all stake holders in this Australian film industry.

Without each of you we'd be back in 1950s and 60s when I was growing up and it was practically impossible to hear an Australian voice or see ourselves up there on the silver screen. 

Barry Jones, Phillip Adams
We owe a debt to Prime Minister John Gorton who with Barry Jones and Phillip Adams dreamed up the system of support for our film industry that's allowed us to continually tell our own stories on film from the late 1960s till now. 

Albie Thoms, David Perry
Thanks also to Aggy Read, Albie Thoms and David Perry for telling me when I was just 18 that anyone could make a movie. I followed their advice and have only had one job ever since.

Sydney Film-makers' Co-op
Thanks to Pat Fiske, Martha Ansara, Chris Tillam, Jan Chapman, Tom Cowan, and everyone at the Sydney Filmmakers co-op for their camaraderie back in the early 70s when we dreamt of the impossible.

David Elfick
Thanks to David Elfick for teaching me to fight above my weight and giving me the chance to direct Bob Ellis script of Newsfront. Thanks to the legendary Australian director Ken G Hall for showing me for how to shoot the flood sequence for that film.

Byron Kennedy, George Miller, Roger Savage
To George Miller and Byron Kennedy thank you for producing The Dismissal, Cowra Breakout, and Dead Calm and for being an inspiration to all of us here in Australia trying to make movies. 

Thank you Gary Foley who starred with Bill Hunter in my first feature Backroads and taught me the truth of black-white history in Australia. 

Bill Hunter, Gary Foley, Backroads
A special thanks to Christine Olsen who woke me in the middle of the night in Los Angeles to sell me on the script she'd adapted from Doris Pilkington Garamarra's book about her mums search for that rabbit proof fence that would lead her all the way home to Jigalong in Western Australia and that brought me home too.

Christine Olsen
And last of all. So many people ask me how do I break into the film industry. It's seems so impossible. Well, just as I was told when I was 18, anyone can make a movie. And with today's technology it's never been so easy or so easy thru the internet to find an audience. All u need is an iPhone an idea and courage.

Thanks to AACTA for bringing us all together for these awards.

Thank you, everyone.