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Tropical Darwin on screen: critiquing national values using urban frontier tropes in Charlie’s Country and Last Cab to Darwin


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Blackwood, G 2018 , 'Tropical Darwin on screen: critiquing national values using urban frontier tropes in Charlie’s Country and Last Cab to Darwin' , eTropic, vol. 17, no. 2 , pp. 133-150 , doi: 10.25120/etropic.17.2.2018.3661.

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Australia’s northern-most tropical city of Darwin has a strong presence in thedomestic and international touristic imagination as a tropical escapedestination – a small city poised on the edge of outstanding natural beauty –yet in national cinematic representations Darwin is often presented as afrontier zone, whether these tropes are pivoted around culture or nature. Iwould like to take up this idea of the city of Darwin as special and distinctive inthe national imaginary that is discernible in recent Australian cinema, an ideathat I show extends to the city’s representation in theatre and literature. Thispaper performs a close textual reading of the city’s recent representation intwo high profile Australian feature films, Charlie’s Country (Rolf de Heer, 2013)and Last Cab to Darwin (Jeremy Sims, 2015). These are films that employcompassionate, humanistic themes, each maintaining a strong focus on maincharacters who find themselves both marginalized and neglected within thebroader mechanisms of Australian society: hence each film is simultaneouslyperforming the secondary work of critiquing Australian culture. In both films, Ishow how the tropical city of Darwin operates as a space of difference, butunlike the contemporary tourism marketing that simplistically brands the regionas a “site of desire”, here we find two unique critiques of Australian law andsociety that work to show the ethical frontiers of legislation and of humansovereignty.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Blackwood, G
Keywords: Darwin, film, cinema, urban representation, screen studies, Charlie's Country, Last Cab to Darwin, indigenous
Journal or Publication Title: eTropic
Publisher: James Cook University
ISSN: 1448-2940
DOI / ID Number: 10.25120/etropic.17.2.2018.3661
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