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Westerns in Australian Cinema

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Focusing on the incidence of the ‘westerns’ film genre in the 120-odd years of Australian cinema history, exploring how the American genre has been adapted to the changing Australian social, political and cultural contexts of their production, including the shifting emphases in the representation of the Indigenous population.

The idea for the book came to the author while he was writing two recent articles. One was an essay for Screen Education on the western in Australian cinema of the 21st century; the other piece was the review of a book entitled Film and the Historian, for the online journal Inside Story . Between the two, he saw the interesting prospect of a book-length study of the role of the western genre in Australia’s changing political and cultural history over the last century – and the ways in which film can, without didacticism, provide evidence of such change. Key matters include the changing attitudes to and representation of Indigenous peoples and of women's roles in Australian Westerns.

When one considers that the longest narrative film then seen in Australia, and quite possibly the world was Charles Tait’s The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906), it is clear that Australia has some serious history in the genre, and Kelly has ridden again in Justin Kurzel’s 2020 adaptation of Peter Carey’s The True History of the Kelly Gang.

Related Topics: Cultural Studies ; Film Studies


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