Monday, 19 September 2011

Red Dog

Yesterday I saw a new Australian film entitled "Red Dog".

I was intrigued by what the ABC's movie program "At The Movies" had to say about the film. Surprisingly (considering their usual lofty opinions on films), they gave it 4 and 4.5 stars. A number of commenters on the page for the film have them slammed the film as being an inaccurate reflection of Australia. Some comments included:

"It was like watching a bunch of b grade Aussie actors from the city with fake dirt on them trying to act as if they are from a mining town…"

and also: "
"Cliched charactures, cringe and corn abound."

As well as:
"This country is so full of culture, history, tradition, good and bad and this is the only thing we can come up with."

Of course this country is full of tradition, but there is one side of the country and its history that we have forgotten about - the side that does it tough in the North West. I lived there for a couple of years to get my career started again after retraining. I can tell you that the life is tough and you need to build yourself a life all over again in order to survive. You need to become part of the community - get involved, meet people, be part of the town's events, otherwise you'll be one lonely little black duck.

I can tell you that people still come from all different countries to work in the mines of WA. The housing is still bad - they still live in dongas (disused shipping containers with doors and windows cut into them.) The Heat is still hot, the red dust still gets into everything, the sense of community and mateship is strong. You need to be tough to handle it - the homesickness is a killer, the scorching sunlight is also a killer, the isolation and the humidity and drive you insane. If you want a change of scenery, be prepared for a drive of 2 hours or more in any direction before you meet the next town, and even then, the change will be little more than another choice of fast food and a few more shops.

Consequently, those who survive are rough and tough but they have a heart of gold. And you cannot find a better sunset anywhere in the world than in the Pilbara. You can't find better friends than up you'll find up there. The landscape, the openness and the space of the place is awe-inspiring. The ranges, the gorges and waterholes are like nothing else. It has it's plusses and minuses, but trust me, you'll never come back the same person as when you left the place…and that's for the better.

The film Red Dog captured all that beautifully. The landscape was beautifully captured, the people rugged but loveable. The work and the living is tough, and sometimes people die in the process. The film captured all of that. There's not much to do out there, and you need to keep yourself amused with whatever you can, and a mate in the form of a kelpie sometimes is all that you need.

There were a few anachronisms though, like for example some of the music was out of time and place. For example, when Johnny-boy was romancing Nancy and Jocko was looking after Red Dog, they played "Shadow Boxer" by The Angels. The story goes that Johnny died in 1975, The song by the Angels was released in 1979.

Anyway, get out and see the film, here's a sample of what you'll hear on the soundtrack.

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