UtopiaHD Closed Captioning
John Pilger & Alan Lowery
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About the Film
One of the most extraordinary films about Australia, 'Utopia' is an epic production by the Emmy and Bafta winning film-maker and journalist John Pilger. Utopia is a vast region in northern Australia and home to the oldest human presence on earth. ‘This film is a journey into that secret country,’ says Pilger. ‘It will describe not only the uniqueness of the first Australians, but their trail of tears and betrayal and resistance – from one utopia to another’. Pilger begins his journey in Sydney, where he grew up, and in Canberra, the nation’s capital, where the national parliament rises in an affluent suburb called Barton, recently awarded the title of Australia’s most advantaged community. Barton was named after Edmund Barton, the first prime minister of Australia, who in 1901 introduced the White Australia Policy. ‘The doctrine of the equality of man,’ said Barton, ‘was never intended to apply to those who weren’t British and white-skinned.’ He made no mention of the original inhabitants who were deemed barely human, unworthy of recognition in the world’s first suburban utopia. One of the world's best kept secrets is revealed against a background of the greatest boom in mineral wealth. Has the 'lucky country' inherited South African apartheid? And how could this happen in the 21st century? What role has the media played? Utopia is both a personal journey and universal story of power and resistance and how modern societies can be divided between those who conform and a dystopian world of those who do not conform. 'Utopia' draws on people and places Pilger first filmed 28 years ago during his long association with the indigenous people of his homeland, The result is often deeply moving and shocking.
Australia needs to watch this film
The film 'Australia' contained movie stars, had a well known director and attempted to tell a soaring tale of hardship, struggle and eventual thrilling victory against the odds. It was a flop. Was it partly a flop because the world suspected something more like the story of 'Utopia' needed to be told? I am Australian. Like Pilger, I have been living outside of Australia. Ther comes a time when one has escaped enough from the mess of influence that is local marketing, media and culture and can begin to reflect on the place one has come from. This time has now come for me. The two issues I am reflecting on are alcohol driven violence amongst youth and the genocide of Australian Aboriginals. It's therefore excellent timing that this film should come out now.
It's also a pity, and a poignant one, that this is not available on the Australian iTunes store and the film is not getting a run in mainstream cinemas there. It's therefore likely to be viewed by a crowd already convinced of the issues and well versed in them. This is a pity because the message is easily processed, it does not require expert knowledge to comprehend, and it refers to recent events with which all Australians are familiar such as the Northern Territory Emergency Response of 2007. It also contains interviews with an impressive caste of politicians, who, with the exception of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, conduct themselves appallingly.
Call me an academic, but the only thing missing from this film is a list of references. I know it's not an academic offering so it's unfair to make such a request - that's why it's still got 5 stars from me - but it would be good to have a reference list for all of the facts cited in the film. I think this is important from the perspective of this film being a tool for change in Australian society. The film is less than 2 hours. It can be watched, but it can also be forgotten. With a list of references and perhaps a booklet or something to go with it summarising the message, perhaps listing some facts, it can become a more powerful resource perhaps for effecting change. If people can share not only the film but a simple document in the course of their discussions about it with others, then the change to our society may be more abrupt.
John Pilger, I don't know you and I suspect I never will, but know that your film has affected at least one Australian and I will be writing about it and talking about it with my family and friends. Thank you.