The idea of changing perspective is a big issue in the film ? Radiance’, directed by Rachel Perkins. This ? art house’ film is set in Australia and is centred on 3 Aboriginal family members: Chressy, Mae and Nona, who are strangers. It deals with their efforts to come to terms with each other and with the devastating consequences of family secrets. Throughout the film fire acts as a symbol of both destruction and regeneration. The burning down of the house destroys painful memories, but at the same time regenerates the image of their mother.
The technique of lighting is used in the scene where the girls burn down the house. The brightness of this scene coincides with an illumination of truth. The music used at this time of the film is very loud to give the effect of a dramatic scene. Mae plays an important part in the topic of changing perspective as she struggles with her own identity. She was the one who stayed to look after her mother, which is the reason why she reveals her pain in a moment of catharsis. Mae changes from hating men, because of how they treated her mother, to accepting them.
This results in a big change in Mae’s personality: from a harsh to a softer woman. A close-up shot of Mae on the beach during her cathartic moment gives the effect of the deep emotion that lies within her. It makes the audience finally understand Mae as a strong character in ? Radiance’. Mae is partially lit up in this scene to reflect the meaning of radiance. Nona is the driving force of the film that has a much more dramatic journey than Mae and Chressy: from a carefree, spontaneous girl to someone with great inner resolve. Chressy’s moment of catharsis has a big impact on Nona’s perspective.
Nona now has to accept that there is no ? black prince’ and that her eldest sister is actually her biological mother. The close-up on Nona’s face shows her tears and emotions, which proves that change is a continually evolving process whether it’s good or bad. The sparkling ocean reintroduces the theme of radiance when Nona is at the beach. The scattering of her mother’s ashes lets Nona gain maturity and a sense of purpose for the first time in her life. The technique of music changes throughout the movie from European to traditional Aboriginal music to the two combined.
Chressy’s high-profiled life is represented byt the European opera music, then she comes home to her once traditional lifestyle, hence the Indigenous music. At the end we see Chressy’s two worlds collide, which is reflected by the song ? My Island Home’ by an Indigenous singer in a European context. The scenery is used to juxtapose the lifestyles of Aboriginal people. The film portrayed North Queensland, especially the sugarcane fields, because people always associate aborigines with the outback rather than the tropics.
At the end we see the 3 women ready for a new start. Chressy and Mae were wearing Nona’s outrageously coloured wigs which suggested a sense of radiant optimism ? 3 women who had come through a great ordeal were now together preparing to head off up the highway to somewhere better. In one day the 3 girls go through many changes which links to the topic that change is all around us. Chressy, Mae and Nona throughout the day realise that any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.
Courtney from Study Moose
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