Friday, August 26, 2005


last week in the paper I read about walkabout. it was on at acmi, a cinema centre at federation square. david gulpilil was at the premiere, I think. I skim-read the article, getting all excited and decided I had to take princess to see this wonderful movie.

I saw walkabout, the movie, when I was about her age or a little older. I remember not understanding much of it, but being impressed by all of it.

i wanted to share with her this movie, which was a part of my childhood. along with the drover’s wife, a short film, walkabout signified the beginnings of consciousness in my child-brain. it was this movie that introduced me to the idea of the Other – difference.

Today I happened upon the piece of paper I had scribbled the screening details on.

I called the ticket office.

MelbourneGirl – hi. I’m calling about ‘Walkabout’. Can you tell me the rating?

Bookings Girl – I’m not sure we have a classification for it

MG – maybe it came out before the classification system [laughs politely]

Bookings Girl - let me just check

[leaves the phone for a few minutes]

Bookings Girl – um, we are using a General Admission

MG – okay, I want to bring my almost-nine-year-old daughter. Also, does it start at eight exactly?

BG – yep, usually.

[MG and Princess get on the tram at 6.19pm. It takes 45 minutes to get to Fed Square. We go to the ticket office]

MG – can I have two to Walkabout please?

Ticket Girl – sure

[usual routine, MG hands over plastic, blah de blah]

[MG picks up high-end DL promo card which reads:

“Chambermade’s Walkabout. Richard J Frankland’s stage and screen response to the Nicolas Roeg film. Written, composed and directed by Richard J Frankland, after the film script by Nicholas Roeg and play scri…”

MG – what are we seeing here? Isn’t it the film?

TG – no it’s a stage, multi-media play

[MG’s jaw drops]

MG – what??????!!!!!!

Princess – mummy, what’s wrong

MG – nothing sweetie, I thought it was the movie but it’s a play

TG – do you want me to cancel the tickets?

MG – um

[we have caught a tram, it’s late on a SCHOOL night, I am the bad parent keeping her child out late, all in the cause of culture and learning]

MG – no, we’ll still go

[Princess and MG walk around town eating maxi bon ice creams. Princess keeps stirring her mother, asking about how long until the ‘film’ starts, and laughing. She makes quote signs in the air when she says film. It is all very amusing. MG laughs indulgently but feels like a dick. ette.]

Eight o’clock sees us in the queue.

Princess – there are no other kids here

MG – well you’ll be the most sophisticated child after seeing this stage play

Princess – you mean “film” [and she does the hand quote thing.]

We get into the theatre. There is an orchestra on stage. The stage is covered with red sand, there are some boulders, some fire wood.

The production is wonderful. I relive the movie anyway. I cry and cry. When I said before how I didn’t really understand the movie, now I do. It filled in the gaps.

There is a scene, at the beginning, where the father takes the two children into the desert. When we were on the tram I had told Princess about the story.

MG – there are two children, an older girl and a younger boy. They’re in the outback. I can’t remember how they get there, but then they meet an indigenous boy who helps them and they make friends. I couldn’t remember how it ended either.

So, the scene. The father asks his daughter to get the food out for lunch. She spreads the picnic rug and readies the hamper. Behind her, the father pulls out a gun. He points it at her. She is kneeling there, vulnerable in her school uniform. Somehow it all goes wrong, or right, and the two children escape and the father kills himself. Princess was recoiling physically in her chair; her back straight and head up to the ceiling in a grimace. She couldn’t watch it.

Princess – what’s happening?

MG – I’ll tell you later, I’ll explain later.

And at the end, the aboriginal boy sings himself to death. Watching the movie, I probably just thought he’d gone mad, with no thought, no attempt to see that it’s never that simple. Tonight showed me that he had become as lost as the children, he had strayed too far from his country, that there were no songlines for him to follow.

In the tram on the way home, Princess sat on my lap and snuggled her chin in underneath my chin. I clutched her to me.

MG – did you learn something tonight?

[Princess nods her head]

Princess – I liked everything except the bit with the father.

I know she misses her own dad. What does her mind make of a man who would kill his own children? How can she hope to understand that?

For her, this is the most disturbing thing she saw tonight.

For me, it was the statistics screened at the end of the show. The numbers of black deaths in custody in this country, the age expectancy, infant mortality, levels of incarceration. It was the way the school girl and the black boy on the brink of manhood, on walkabout for his initiation, talk at cross purposes, don’t understand each other. Completely miss each other. They see a shooting star. She says how romantic it is, and starts to see him as a potential lover. He sees it as meaning that someone has died, perhaps from his tribe, and because he is away, he cannot be there for the mourning and burial. This separates him from his kin, and is the beginning of him becoming lost.

We are so many of us lost.
My heart aches.


elaine said...

this post was so moving MG.

So many of us are lost. Maybe we can just try as hard as we possibly can to reach out to others and create community wherever we can.

ps almost tears in the office. Not such a good look.

Melba said...

thanks elaine. it's depressing when you think about it. sorry to upset you. you are right about community. and connecting. that's what we do through blogs and i think it's a beautiful thing.

elaine said...

not crying in a bad way, crying in a moved by your beautiful words way.

I totally agree with you about blogs being a form of community.

*offers tea, home baked shortbread and a chat*

LadyCracker said...

crying right now, so beautiful MG.

Such a bad day today, that post has started me off.

any further comments from Princess yet?

BEVIS said...

I can't say I'm crying, but I, too, thought your post was lovely.

I studied Walkabout in school, so I have a slight affinity with the original text. I imagine it would have been a powerful play to see, especially as an eight-year-old.

Good on her with the use of air quotes, though. Sounds like she has a great sense of humour for such an age.

Chip off the ol' block, eh? :)

Locket said...

Oh mg,
You're doing such a good job with the princess. She's so far ahead in the game (at only 'nearly nine'). I think if all children were as lucky as she we could face the future without fear.

I can't believe some of the stuff I learnt at school. I don't think I really understood the concept of the Other until I was at uni. Terra Nullius?? It's a misnomer!

[mentally blesses Cultural Studies]

You're amazing


Do you know if this show will tour?

Melba said...

oh beatiful people

thanks for your words

not sure if the show will tour

checkout the link

ladycracker - no further comments from princess, she is distilling. that's what she does. but i want to track down the film itself now that she knows the story it would be great for her to see it.

Justine said...

Great post MG. Lucky daughter you have there.
Locket this one won't get it at school but she'll get it from home. Great, huh?

Ms Smack said...

Interesting info for you...

when someone in a clan/kin group does something wrong - like really wrong... they are can be 'sung' by the other more respected lore abiding clan members. In other words, they're punished, and a curse is put on them for death. Normally women and men that cheat on partners, or disobey specific orders can be 'sung'

This 'singing' may have been that.... depends on the context i guess.

Also, women normally 'howl' or mourn the loss of a loved woman.. i'll have to check the movie too :)

thanks for the way cool post :)

Melba said...

hi honeysmack. don't know if you'll come back here but thanks for the info. in the stageplay, he definitely sang himself to death. or was it he danced? anyway he willed himself to die, or he had lost the will to live. because he was lost, physically and emotionally.

i would love to learn more about the indigenous ways.

Sarah Saad said...

شركة كيان لنقل العفش بالرياض والمدينة المنورة وجدة ومكة والطائف والدمام تقديم لكم دليل كامل لشركات نقل العفش بالمملكة العربية السعودية

نقل عفش شركة كيان
دليل شركات نقل العفش
شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
شركة نقل اثاث بالرياض
شركة نقل عفش بجدة