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Landscape Metaphors from One Night the Moon Essay

1. Make sure that you LINK to the text – this is not a new idea, so if you forgot to do that, you’ve instantly lost quite a few marks. It can be a superb piece of writing, but if you haven’t linked to the text, you can kiss a good third of your marks goodbye I reckon. – You can link OVERTLY – that is, use a character or set in 1930′s Australia to explore the conflict b/w white settlers and indigenous Oz (One Night The Moon, obviously!) – or more SUBTLY – using landscape metaphors from the film – but I’d still put some really clear links in there such as using quotes from dialogue or the poetry to make it superclear. DON’T RETELL THE STORY!!!!

2. Don’t just REWRITE a piece you’ve planned before – spend a good TEN MINUTES planning out the IDEAS of the prompt, because this is part of the criteria – you have to show you’ve thought out a good response to the prompt. Use synonyms to help you puzzle it out and work out your reaction to it.

3. In an expository, think 1/3 link to texts, 2/3 everything else – draw on real life experience, the news, history etc to support what you say. And don’t even mention any examples in the intro – just answer the question in 4/5 lines, explaining your thinking. IN each paragraph, start with the big ideas first – the conceptual stuff – and then support with hard evidence. Here’s another ‘One Night The Moon’ piece that I modelled on a piece of travel writing on Iceland….it can be a good idea to mimic the structure of something else you’ve read and enjoyed in order to draw out the ideas of the prompt. ‘Landscapes give us a sense of belonging’

“They make their campfires down by the creek. I wouldn’t go down there at night – I certainly know I’m not welcome” growled the laconic, gruff station owner that we’d hired to take us to the heart of cattle country. His hand was large and scarred, clearly used to the handling of big animals out here, building stock fences and no doubt slaughtering them to put food on the table for his family. It was the first thing he’d said in about an hour and he clearly felt strongly enough about these people on his land – yes, I know that the notion of ‘his’ is a little fuzzy given recent discussion about land ownership and Mabo’s battle in the high courts. I wonder what the Indigenous population would say about his warning. I wonder if they really would turn him out of camp. It brings to mind those old black and white etchings of natives with spears on one leg – you know the garden ornament stereotypes that ardorn suburban Melbourne gardens and bastardise any real notion of what it means to be an Indigenous person in this country – I mean, how humiliating! I can acknowledge how threatened the British felt, arriving on boats after weeks – months – at sea, having travelled from one side of the world to the other. It wouldn’t have exactly felt like a welcoming party.

I bet there were many men and woman thinking about the white cliffs of Dover and wishing that they’d never said goodbye to the green fields of England, the land that had held them since they were babies and that they grew up knowing was theirs. All that ancestral connection to place must be a pretty thinly stretched cord over ten thousand miles or so of sea. I wonder if that’s what many who have tried to settle here have been thinking ever since – that one day, the blacks are going to come over that hill or around that river bed and make them go back to where they came from. As if reading my mind, Jim grunts ‘My father is buried over there’. He nods toward a small and desolate grave yard. There are two markers – one must be the good wife’s, and I don’t wonder why Jim doesn’t mention her. It’s a man’s country, after all – he wouldn’t be able to conceive giving credit to a woman who likely bore enough children to guarantee some kind of ownership in the district. There is probably even a cake named after her, if she’d fulfilled her community duties right.

I wonder if she let her kids play down by the creek or kept them indoors and schooled them about Europe and a land they would never hope to see. ‘He came out from London in the late 1880’s. Couldn’t own land in England but if you look around you, he signed on the dotted line for all you can see. Threw the natives out. But they kept coming back. Turfed one off my property the other day – hunting my bloody chooks he was’. Now looking around me, I feel a bit uncomfortable about all this.

I look at Jim and in some ways he fits in well here. His hands are stained red from the dust that seeps into every crack and nook here and I know he’s worked hard to make this land pay. It’s not an easy life, and when I was doing my research before I came, I’d found out three local farmers had killed themselves because they just couldn’t meet the payments demanded from the banks. So I know Jim’s earnt it, as has his father (Macquarrie Street, on the east side of town, is named after his family, who were one of the original settlers here). Even the way Jim walks through the land shows he means business, and the rocks and trees seem to bend under his swagger when he walked me out to the stunning Sussannah Gorge that was named so after his great grandmother. His house too, stands strong and white in the middle of a paddock. I’m so used to seeing these old homesteads with corrugated iron roofs, wide verandahs and a mangy dog lying exhausted in the back of a rusty ute carcass that it doesn’t occur to me, when I first see it, that it might not belong here. This land is in fact palpably entwined with stories like Jim’s.

Read any Henry Lawson story and they’ll describe a man who has ostensibly battled with the land to make a living, be it gold digging or cattle mustering or mining. You can still meet these kind of characters in any bar in any outback town. Anybody who has ever been read The Drovers Wife can imagine being isolated while their man is off droving wild bush horses and shaping the myths of this formidable land of ours. I can almost see Clancy of the Overflow, just like Banjo Patterson did, in the ‘vision spendid of the sunlit plains extended’. And look at Red Dog, a tale of a kelpi, the cattle dog of Australian myths who searches for his lost master – these are the stories we know and love. These are the stories that connect us to our place. It gives us a great sense of national pride, a real sense of belonging, to read these stories and know it’s about us and who we are.

But when Jim’s finishing showing my around – and I take in a gorgeous vista of a primordial gorge that cuts its way through rocks that were formed at the beginning of time, the abattoirs with their metallic stench of blood and the lowing of cattle waiting for death because Gillard hasn’t managed to work out a solution to the Indonesian exports, and the dam that is lamentably only ten percent full, causing the exodus of many to wetter climes – I have time to visit somewhere quite special, that makes me think that a sense of belonging doesn’t always mean a warm cozy feeling or a sense that every rock and tree is yours because a piece of paper says it is. I spend five hours hiking to a place that began as a rumor after questioning some locals about indigenous cave paintings. ‘Yeah – I think there might be some up Slaughter Creek’, the local girls out the front of the IGA drawled. ‘it’s a long hike, but, for a coupla handprints’, they laugh, eyeing off my clean city boots.

Picking my way gingerly along thin paths that twist upward through sharp and sanguinous cliff faces, I end up at the mouth of a huge cave created by years of erosion of the soft limestone that the local area is made of. At my back stretches a view to die for – if they could get a house up here, it’s be a million dollar vision – all shimmering blue with gums in the heat and the peak of Mt Sterling in the distance. It strikes my soul and, as is typical for this country, I am awestruck by the depth of light and expanse of space that could sell anyone a trip here. But it’s the cave that intrigues me.

The hands painted on these walls are all shapes and sizes – some tiny, some big – man’s hands that would have shown the child how to rub the ochre into the palm and to the fingertips and place the hand lovingly against the cool rocks. I can almost hear their voices piercing through the thin veil of time that hides their world from mine. He would have held onto his child, taught it everything he knew about the land and the animals and the stories of this place that his father before him would have taught him.

The vision of those white sails of the so called first fleet would have been centuries in the future. Never would he have thought to tell his boy that this land might not be theirs only one day. Nor would he have thought that the cool waters of the creek bed below would be home to his ancestors bones, marked with gunshot wounds. Never would he have thought that his children’s children would be taken away from them and raised with this touch of painted hands or the smoke of campfires.

Never would he have imagined that his descendants would have to justify their place here in a court, that they might be losing their grip as a culture on the land that had nurtured them from when the rainbow serpent awoke the sleeping world of gum trees and marsupials. I wonder if Jim thinks about that sometimes. I know he’s been up here, because he told me the way was too hard to be worth the bother. I wonder if sometimes, when he sees those campfires burning, that he worries that maybe he doesn’t belong here after all, that his grip on the land is tenuous. I can see why he keeps building fences – it’s not to keep them out, but it’s to keep him firmly in. If he marks his territory, maybe they’ll let him keep it.

Successful Creating and Presenting requires you to share your views on The Imaginative Landscape. Whether you choose to write in an expository, persuasive or imaginative mode, the key is to consider the elements within your nominated school text and how it explores and conveys ideas on landscape. The material that follows is designed to get you thinking conceptually about what landscape means, our relationship with our landscape and the factors that can ‘shape’ our internal landscape. Supplementary texts have also been included to help you develop your ideas as you work towards your written response.

Discussion Points
After a long winter aren’t we all waiting for the chance to get back to the beach and feel the sun on our bodies and just relax? Singer Jack Johnson knows that feeling well: “When this world is too much/It will be/Only the ocean and me/ When my sails go up/Mountains fade away/Stars come out/I’m finally free/Now it’s only the ocean and me.” There is something about the beach and the way it can give us a sense of peace. For others it may be the bush; the smell of the eucalypts and the sound of flies as they buzz about. Others may find their ‘place’ is something less obvious – a department store, a gym class or a spot on the school oval. *Where is that place for you?

*List 5 elements of that place that make it your sanctuary.
*Who is with you in your sanctuary?

The texts
One Night the Moon
There are three perspectives on landscape within the film; the Father, the Mother and the Tracker. In responding to the prompt it would be important to compare and contrast the views presented through narrative and visual elements. The Father, Jim, views the land with a sense of pride and possession. He sings, ‘Bank breaking down my neck/They won’t take it away’. It is his land, he’s worked hard to make it liveable for his family and no one will tell him what to do. His inner landscape before his daughter disappears is one of fierce determination and the notion that a successful home means a successful man. The perspective of the Tracker is not one of land ownership but belonging.

The film highlights the Aboriginal view that ‘This land is me…My being is where I belong.’ His respectful reverence for his landscape gives him a sense of belonging and security and he proclaims, ‘You only fear what you don’t understand.’ It is these conflicting views of their landscape and the way they feel about their landscape that ultimately causes the death of the Father’s daughter. It is his belligerence and nothing more that prevents the Tracker from finding her. The Father’s inner landscape of masculine bravado and ‘white fella’ stoicism ends in further tragedy when he takes his own life. The values and influences that ‘shaped’ his inner landscape, ‘You earned your bread, said your prayers well…God was good, black was never white’ have not provided him with the coping mechanisms he needs to deal with the tragedy. He doesn’t know anything anymore.’

Possible Ideas for Writing
1. Write a travel article on one of the locations in the texts, say Cape Breton. Your purpose it to capture its mystery and landscape.

2. Write a persuasive piece for a newspaper where you argue that long-term detention in Australian detention centres will cause irreparable damage to them.

3. Write a speech given at end-of-year assembly where you encourage your fellow students to see the uncertainties and challenges ahead of them as part of life’s journey. You may like to include your chosen text into the speech or reflect upon their experiences and what they learn.

4. Write a letter as one of the characters from your chosen text. Express how you feel about leaving home/returning home. LOVE for the land and the meaning of it — mutually held but with profound differences by both indigenous people and white farmers — is at the core of this hybrid musical and modern opera. The music track is woven throughout this highly visual narrative. The essential narrative of One Night the Moon is the drama of a white Australian farming family and race relations in the 1930s. Yet the imaginative landscape of the film expands to encompass both the emotional experience and also the symbolic resonance of Aboriginal Dreaming and a spiritual or mystical approach to the land. Stories of the land formation and their cultural and spiritual meaning are the heart of indigenous culture. The meanings of land and people’s relationship with it are evoked throughout the tragic course of this film. Both Aboriginal lore and codified white law underpin the narrative, action and themes. Within that frame the relationships of race, human connection and belonging are played out.

Sight and Imagination — Outer Landscapes
The external plot is simple, encompassing the viewpoints and ‘‘landscapes’’ of three characters — the Father, the Mother and the Tracker. The narrative is straightforward, yet the symbolism is rich and the emotional experience potent throughout the film. On a struggling outback farm in the 1930s, a young white child, Emily (Memphis Kelly), is mesmerised by the full moon and climbs out the bedroom window, moving towards it. Her father Jim (Paul Kelly) sets up a search party but belligerently refuses to allow the involvement of an Aboriginal tracker, Albert (Kelton Pell).

Albert’s knowledge and identity are rejected, based on racial prejudice. In reaction, Albert throws in his role with the white police and resigns. Rose (Kaarin Fairfax), the distraught mother, regrets Jim’s rash decision and its futile results, and re-engages Albert. Together they set out to find Emily, but it’s too late; they find only her bones. Jim’s life is destroyed by regret, and he shoots himself in despair. For each person the magnificent visual landscape of the Flinders Ranges carries different meanings, and different perspectives on belonging and home, infused with their emotional reactions. Each character is depicted in relation to the undulating landscape, and spends time roaming within it and contemplating it.

Sound and Imagination – Inner Landscapes
The circular structure of the film and the repetition of the key songs and musical themes evoke patterns, found also in landscape and in life itself. Music, ranging from the fast-paced strings of Mairead Hannan’s compositions to Kev Carmody’s gentle melodies, contributes to the elegiac and melancholy mood of the film, and carries us into the emotional lives of the characters. The tracks of Irish string music are traditional in their own way and another part of the Australian ethnic and cultural composition. Songs underpin the narrative and themes. Several key songs emerge as linkages to the most potent moments and themes for the three main characters. One Night the Moon

The first sequence and images raised prefigure the final sequence of the film. But the first major song sequence — One Night the Moon — is a lullaby shared by mother and child as they lie together in the intimacy of bedtime. The ‘‘calling’’ moon evokes the drift into sleep, but also gives rise to a sense of the power of the elements and the imaginative potency of landscape. The lullaby stirs the imagination of the child Emily, who then responds to the seduction and magnetic pull of the full moon. It is a symbolic and elemental reminder of the earth as mother, gently compelling the imaginative and curious child, full of the urge to explore and learn. It seems benign and gentle, maternal, an extension of the mother — as it is across the mythological spectrum of many cultures. The inner and outer landscapes of the child come together in this compelling scene. This Land is Mine; This Land is Me

This song instantly and brilliantly announces and encapsulates the differences between black and white responses and attitudes to land and landscape. For Jim, the land he has struggled over rightfully belongs to him and he fiercely announces that the bank ‘‘won’t take it away’’. For Albert, the land is his very being, it embodies him and his spirit in ways that are evocative but intensely difficult for white people to deeply comprehend or accept. The lore — the Dreaming — is evoked in the images, both expansive and intensive of the elements and landscapes; here through the medium of film, as it is in indigenous art and painting.

Imagination and Experience
I Don’t Know Anything Anymore
Conflict takes places between the characters and between the land and the characters. Jim’s rigid and proprietorial attitude leads to the breakdown of his marriage and the loss of his family, and the meaning of his whole life. Rose, his wife, becomes distant as she cannot share her doubt and fear with him when he rejects the best opportunity of knowledge and assistance. His own searches yield nothing, and become internal searches as well, and in despair he turns to alcohol.

There is ambivalence towards the land here; the land compels us with its beauty and grandeur, and the nourishment it provides for both indigenous people and farmers, but it is vast and dangerous as well, if not understood, valued and respected. In this aspect One Night the Moon reminds us of Picnic at Hanging Rock and the eerie and destructive potential of the elements, but this film is about reconciliation with the earth and the Other. The ‘‘imaginative landscape’’ is an amalgam of the literal and metaphoric, the outer and the inner. The tragedy is that Albert could have found Emily in time to save her, had Jim been more open, less rigid in his attitudes to land and race. At the close of the film, after the rich strains of Albert’s wife (Ruby Hunter) singing ‘‘Oh Breathe on Me Breath of God’’ at the bush burial, the tragedy comes full circle to the opening image — the despair of Jim, and his life-denying stance. Moonstruck

The film ends with Moonstruck as Kev Carmody sings — ‘‘Spirit of the moon it calls me home’’. Just as the moon called little Emily, it asserts its power again, but the mood of the closing song is one of respect for the moon, and harmony with the elements and landscape bringing a sense of spiritual nourishment, belonging, security and peace. The white tragedy of individual family loss of life raises the possibility of empathy with an entire people’s loss of lives, tradition and culture under white settlement, evoking loss as an essential human experience, regardless of race. And the symbolic meeting of Albert and Rose, and unified purpose of black and white, is a powerful symbol of reconciliation — as well as sheer practicality and common sense — and respect for traditional indigenous knowledge and skills. One Night the Moon was made in 2000, the Year of Reconciliation and of symbolic marches and bridge crossings.

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