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Jenna Lee Connors
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John Sebastian Pilakui,
The Australian Outback - 1932. Entranced by the moon, a young girl steps out of her bedroom window. When her parents check on her, she is gone. The police suggest aboriginal tracker Albert lead the search, but the father revolts - insisting - no black-fella is to set foot on my land. Instead, he gathers together as many white men as he can find, and conducts a line search across the desolate plains in search of the child. Albert watches helplessly as her every trace is stamped to dust. Sometime later, the daughter is still missing, and the mother makes a decision to take responsibility into her own hands, to reconcile the loss of her child. She goes to find Albert... Written by
"Once I knew what I was living for But I don't know anything any more"
Here is a haunting requiem full of anguish about a man who through his own stubborn nature brought about the destruction of his family. The harsh landscape of the Australian outback emphasises the forbidding situation as the searchers trek aimlessly across a dry and stony land.
It comes as a surprise to hear the father break into song but one becomes accustomed to this format as each of the characters in turn play their singing role. It is a clever and different approach to dialogue and seems to fit the sad mood.
The musical background is interesting, though somewhat mixed. At one stage I am sure I heard Afghani music during the hopeless search. I would like to think that it was the ghosts of the Afghan camel drivers who once trekked across this arid land. The film has an unmistakeable mystical quality.
The film is based on an actual event of 1932. It is an incident that could happen to any family living in such a deserted place. The film asks a question about what makes a person wander off from familiar surroundings. Could it be the moon? It is well known that over the centuries the moon has been thought to have magical powers!
This film with its mystical quality recalls an earlier Australian film "Picnic at Hanging Rock" Both are imbued with an eerie stillness as the search goes on without success.
The vastness of this ancient land is well portrayed as cruel yet beautiful and there is an enduring feeling of loneliness.
The mother's sorrow and flashbacks of little Emily Ryan is touching.
Of the many songs in the film the title song "One Night the Moon" will probably be the favourite nicely rendered by the whole family on the night of Emily's disappearance. The full moon plays a large part in the unfolding of the simple yet moving story. What a large and beautiful moon it is!
This is a mood poem of great quality put together in an expert and convincing manner. It is a thought-provoking piece which has a lesson for all of us.
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