WARWICK THORNTON’S THE DARKSIDE – THE REVIEW

The award-winning creative force behind SAMSON & DELILAH return with a ground-breaking and unnerving project… true stories from the other side. Warwick Thornton’s true stories from the other side tell the ghost tales with a black aboriginal perspective. THE DARKSIDE is out now and I can only seem to find it screening exclusively at Palace Cinemas. You can suss the thoughts on the film from Salty Kernel, ANDREW BRUSENTSEV, below. THE DARKSIDE is out now, is rated PG and runs for 94mins – I am incredibly intrigued by this one and there could be a Palace visit on the cards for this weekend so I can whip out my new Cinema Pioneers card :).

 

Warwick Thornton, The Darkside, Warwick Thronton's The Darkside, Ghost Stories, Real Life Ghost Stories, Sacha Horler, Deborah Mailman, Bryan Brown, Claudia Karvan, Shari Sebbens, Transmission Films, Aaron Pedersen
WARWICK THORNTON’S THE DARKSIDE – THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW

 

What an interesting concept for a movie Warwick Thornton has created with his movie THE DARKSIDE. As Thornton explained before the screening at the Corroboree Festival (a Sydney Festival celebrating indigenous culture) it was developed by the director asking the public for Indigenous ghost stories. The stories came flooding in from all Australians – black and white.  From all the stories received thirteen were selected for this film. A great number for ghost stories.

The stories are varied they are powerfully performed most in one shot takes. Just a room, the performer and the story. In some you hear Thornton’s voice but he doesn’t intrude on the story or edit them in any way. This gives the stories a very human feel, as if we, the viewer, are listening to the story-teller as you do many a campfire ghost tale. Some stories whilst not using the performer use the original sound recording sent to Thornton with the director and his team supplying the visuals.

 

 

Warwick Thornton, The Darkside, Warwick Thronton's The Darkside, Ghost Stories, Real Life Ghost Stories, Sacha Horler, Deborah Mailman, Bryan Brown, Claudia Karvan, Shari Sebbens, Transmission Films, Aaron Pedersen
WARWICK THORNTON’S THE DARKSIDE – THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW

 

There are great performances. A standout Shari Sebbens retells the story of Naomi who is visited constantly by the presence of her grandmother. The story is told in a hospital hallway with Sebbens barely looking at the camera. The story is powerful and touching. Others are hilariously funny like the story retold by Jack Charles sitting at the bar in an empty pub. He finishes the story looks left and right and helps himself to the beer tap. Some are simply weird. Lynette Narkle tells a bizarre story of being pregnant whilst on an island in Australia’s north. Waking one night to something on her chest and then realising it is the ghost of a legless woman who proceeds to crawl around walls on her hands. Only when Narkle invokes the name of Christ does the creature disperse.

The most powerful story is retold by Romaine Moreton. Whilst researching at the National Film and Sound Archive she discovers that the building used to be the Australian Institute of Anatomy. This building it turns out stored the remains of many Indigenous people. Moreton speaks of the unrest of those not returned to country to lie in peace. This is handled delicately as Thornton illustrates this story with gripping archival footage of Aboriginal people being physically studied by anthropological scientists.

 

 

Warwick Thornton, The Darkside, Warwick Thronton's The Darkside, Ghost Stories, Real Life Ghost Stories, Sacha Horler, Deborah Mailman, Bryan Brown, Claudia Karvan, Shari Sebbens, Transmission Films, Aaron Pedersen
WARWICK THORNTON’S THE DARKSIDE – THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW

 

There is something so uniquely Australian to these stories and they are combined effortlessly with Thornton’s settings for these vignettes. Verandahs, campfires, a marina, living rooms are used well but there is something disjointed about this experience. The stories are compelling and well-acted – there are a lot of “stars” on display. Deborah Mailman, Bryan Brown and Aaron Pederson all do really well but it is not with the stories or delivery that the problem is. After a while I couldn’t understand what linked these stories together at all. What was the thread that went through the whole? I couldn’t find one. It was more like watching a series of short films one after the other. I would still encourage people to watch them. But perhaps a film isn’t the best way to present these stories? Perhaps some kind of multimedia experience mixed with live performance. I am not sure.

 

3 Pops