Sunday, November 06, 2005

Phillips Noyce and Aboriginies, Haruki Murakami and the End of the World

Relaxing weekend so far, nothing too too special... met up with Scott yesterday for our weekly trek and stumbled upon a mini-festival here in town... a Gyoza festival of some kind. It's always nice to see some life down there around O-dori.

Yesterday evening, I realized that I had watched 3 movies directed by Phillip Noyce in the last week! What a coincidence! The first two were part of the Tom Clancy pack I bought from "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger" and then last night I watched "Rabbit Proof Fence" with Scott. Noyce is quite amazing, as one can see when looking at the extras on each DVD. His attention to detail is amazing and he creates an atmosphere on the set that all the actors interviewed say is without equal. For me, his dedication and love of film making was apparent when I saw him sprawled out on the floor at an acting school teaching 3 kids he found in the Australian Outback how to act! Pretty amazing.

"Rabbit Proof Fence" is, simply put, a great movie. The story deals with some of the horrendous policies on Aboriginal rights and freedoms which were in place in Australia until the 1970s. While the government had good intentions when it put these policies into place, looking back now, they seem quite barbaric. A position was created within whatever department called the
Chief Protector, and he was appointed legal guardian of ALL aboriginals in Australia. This means that all legal rights were essentially stripped from the aboriginals and given to this protector. Every aspect of aboriginal life was controlled by his department, from when they could buy shoes, when\where they could travel and who\when they could marry. One of the most damaging policies to come out of this sad era was the forced removal of half-caste children (one white parent, one aboriginal parent) from their families. The thought process behind it was that it would be best to breed the aboriginal traits out of these kids than to have them live as a third race within their communities. Studies found that it took 3 generations to breed out any visible trace of aboriginal blood from subjects, so they set out to isolate any and all half-caste children and marry them off to white people. Of course, while in the camps, they were trained and educated in the fine arts of housekeeping, farming and babysitting, essentially earning them a place at the bottom of the social ladder for the rest of their lives and providing a replenishable source of domestic help for white families throughout Australia.

"Rabbit Proof Fence" follows the true story of 2 sisters and a cousin aged 8 to 14 who were removed by the authorities from their village and moved to an infamous mission\camp for aboriginal children 1500 miles away near Perth. When the eldest of the three realized what kind of life her and her companions were in store for, they escaped from the camp, with plans to head home. Luckily for them, a fence had been built accross large sections of Australia to protect farm lands from infestation by rabbits. This fence ran through their homelands, so by finding the fence they could find their way home. Over the course of the movie, we follow these three young girls in their incredible journey along the fence to their home 1500 miles away, on foot, in the harsh Australian outback. At the end of the movie, Noyce takes us into their village to meet the sisters who made it back home and lived out the rest of their lives there. Absolutely fantastic movie.

On to another movie, and a more critical note.... Watched "The Sum of All Fears" last night, another Tom Clancy adaptation. I am left with mixed feelings after completing my DVD pack of Clancy movies ranging from "The Hunt for the Red October" in 1990 to "The Sum of All Fears in 2002. Seeing 3 different actors take on the role of Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck) was disturbing enough... having them re-write entire storylines to fit the novels to their leading man was more than disturbing. I guess the major problem with making a Tom Clancy movie is the sheer scale of his novels. As the director of "Sum" mentions, he asked the government for: F16 fighter jets, Stealth Bombers, Marine Helicopters and an Aircraft Carrier... and this isn't even a major military story line!!! His attention to detail, intricate stories and deep character development are what makes Clancy Clancy. Skimming the main story and compacting it into a 2 hour movie is almost a sacrilege. He is still working on his Jack Ryan series, where in the last 12 books we've seen him go from a green CIA analyst to Director of CIA and even President... It was difficult for me having read all of these great novels to like Ben Affleck as Ryan in "Sum"... but the rest of the movie was great... I guess there's just something appealing to seeing just how easy it could be for the world to be blown to bits, good old M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction) is still alive and kicking.

Now, as for Haruki Murakami and his book "Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World"... Wow. Not much I can say about it, I think my mind is still crunching data. It's a difficult read, follows 2 apparently totally different storylines from one chapter to the next, deals with the intricacies of the human mind and conciousness... good read, but glad I got through it. I think I'd better concentrate on my Lonely Planet Beijing for the next little while and try and get this trip sorted out...

So that was pretty much the weekend so far. Tonight I am making Pad Thai for my dinner companion, should be quite tasty... then back to the grind tomorrow... sigh...

Oh yeah! And my package from Sean is in UTSUNOMIYA!!! It's sitting at the post office right now, probably going to be delivered to the school this afternoon, so I have to drop by and have a look! Woohoo!

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