Check your facts before you act

Transnational film can be defined by the belonging of where the film comes from.

It is lucky for Australia’s growing film industry that we are able to recognize Australian films, even if they have some transnational, cross cultures in them.

Take the movie Water Diviner for example; it’s based off the Australian World War although you see cross cultures from Turkish backgrounds due to Gallipoli history and British officials as well. Water Diviner was extremely successful in the Australian Box Office hitting $12,294,472 in Australia and $11,340,000 in foreign cinemas. Although, while Water Diviner was successful, Australia has many films come out of the industry not as successful. This is when our Australian Film industry gets questioned why they should keep competing with big industries like Hollywood and Bollywood.

As discussed in the lecture this week, it is clearly evident that the Australian Film industry should be kept alive because we are keeping our history, advertising stories from our nation (which could also be bringing tourism into Australia), protecting our culture and the fact that even though Australia is unique, our culture and stories can still be understood by others quite easily.

Joseph Nye (2004), a Harvard Political Scientist, backed up these reasons explaining that soft power can be used to keep culture in films. He explained that culture is a tool to promote national and corporate interests. He also explained that through film you could gain favorability from other countries and cultures, improving your country’s status in the world. For example; China has invested hundreds of thousands of money into their film industry purely to promote their country and gain others interests.

James Cameron, a Canadian director that directed Avatar incorporated Indian Mythology and ancient Hindi concepts into the film. This could be questioned if there was ‘cultural borrowing’ from these cultures and whether or not it was appropriate. Cultural borrowing can be defined as western cultures using other cultures such as Indian mythology in Avatar or Chinese culture in the children film Kung-Fu Panda. Avatar has earned $2.7 billion since it was released in 2009 by 20th Century Fox. Avatar has clear evidence of this cultural borrowing through the following aspects in the film which are discussed in Schaefer and Karan (2010):

  • The blue colour of the Na’vi characters – Rama and Krishna are avatars in the religious tradition.
  • The plot – focusing on invaders which is significant to the traditional story line of Ramayana
  • “Blue monkeys” is what the humans in Avatar refer the Na’vi people to – which is also linked to the story of Ramayana.
  • The Na’vi people in Avatar rely on bow and arrows which is the same weapon that Rama and his followers rely on and use.
  • The concept of ‘Darshan’, a Hindi concept is also used as a thematic motif as ‘seeing as understanding’.
  • The greeting of ‘I see into/understand you’

It seems like James Cameron did his research before directing the movie that was extremely successful in most countries around the world.

All in all I think it is important to still recognize Australian films and this can be evident through the AACTA (Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Awards) – (founded by Geoffrey Rush).

It is also important to consider the transnational film industry as it expands our knowledge and understanding of the world, although producers and directors need to take caution as the appropriation of films being created can be questioned.

References:

Evans, N 2015, Transnational Film, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia.

Karan K Schaefer JD 2010, Global Media and Communication: Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of Popular Indian cinema in global film flows, vol. 6 no. 3, Sage Publications, America.

Nye, J 2004, Soft Power: The means of success in world politics, 1st edn, Public Affairs, United States of America, Chapter 2.

The Water Diviner 2015, International Box Office Results – Box Office Mojo. The Water Diviner (2015) – International Box Office Results – Box Office Mojo. Viewed 21 August 2015, <http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=intl&country=AU&id=waterdiviner.htm>.

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