"Beneath Clouds" film review

Essay by freelunchbrianHigh School, 11th gradeB, September 2007

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The Australian film "Beneath Clouds" by Ivan Sen is about two aboriginal teenagers, Lena and Vaughn who escape from their environment, meet each other, and travel together to Sydney, where Lena’s father and Vaughn’s dying mother live. The film takes the audience on a journey from Moore to Sydney, from where the film explores issues such as identity, racism, and aboriginality. Initially, Lena resists Vaughn, and thinks that he always blame his misfortunes on his ethnicity, and on the other hand, Vaughn does not realise that Lena is of Aborigines decent, and so hold a barrier towards her as he does towards other white people. As the journey progresses, a strong relationship is developing between the two.

Lena is a mixed race teenage girl who escaped from her Aborigines mother to a journey to look for her Irish father. She wants to get away from her heritage, maybe stick it to Ireland.

Vaughn is a very strong character, who escaped from a detention centre to visit his dying mother, which is virtually his only dream. He is also very defensive and even violent towards white. Most white characters, especially the police, look down on Vaughn by calling him a ‘boy’ because he is an Aborigine. He constantly blames the white for stealing their land but Lena never reveals her heritage to Vaughn, and blames the Aboriginal culture for separating her and her father.

In one scene, where Vaughn’s friends pick the both up, Lena’s heritage is finally revealed by an elderly Aborigines women, simply by asking “where your people from”. She is the only one in the film to address her as an Aborigine. Then the police came and pull the car over. Vaughn resists to say his name, and ends up being beaten by the police. After a few moments of violence, Vaughn and others manage to get on the car, and move on to the last scene, where Vaughn discovers her mother and Lena makes a choice whether to say with Vaughn or to follow her dream.

Dialogues and shots are important elements of this film. The predominant use of extreme close up shows the facial expressions of the characters, which are emphasised by the lack of lengthy dialogues. The extreme long shots help establish the setting, and emphasis the emptiness of the town Lena and Vaughn come from.

Beneath Clouds is truly a great Australian film. It not only follows the journey of the two teenagers, but also successfully explores and criticises the issues and problems that exist in the Aboriginal culture. The great outback and long pauses in conversations make this Australian film very powerful and realistic. The film relies heavily on emotions, which is emphasised by the brilliant cinematic techniques such as extreme close up shots and dialogues. The film just keeps moving and will never let the audience down.