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Films are more than just entertainment. They often speak to the particular values or attitudes of people at a given place or time. Australian films, for instance, put forward ideas about who Australians are as people and the things they should value. Kriv Stenders' 2011 hit film 'Red Dog' is an example of this reality. ‘Red Dog’ is an Australian film about the adventures of a dog in the Australian Pilbara. Although, an entertaining film, the director also wants to highlight some uniquely Australian values through his work. Some of these being unity in the face of adversity and the celebration of Australian culture.
The idea that Australians show unity in the face of adversity has long since been a theme, almost its own genre of Australian film. (Think of classic Australian films such as The Eureka Stockade or Gallipoli). The setting of the film, the Pilbara, can be described as a vast ocean of red sand. Through the use of cinematic techniques, Stenders is able to show the loneliness of the Australian Pilbara. This is conveyed cleverly through intentional camera choices such as the long shot and panning shots, which focus on the empty red outback, including burnt and broken trees. From this, viewers can interpret that there is nothing out there to love, meaning the people of Dampier only have each other for company and friendship.
The setting further highlights the theme of togetherness. For instance, ‘togetherness' often takes place in the 'Mermaid Hotel', where all the men gather for a drink and a good time after a long, tough day of work. The producer of Red Dog confirmed this was a deliberate intent, stating:
“I think Red Dog embraces the Australian spirit and communities coming together in tough times, and as a result I think Australians are celebrating that." (RED DOG AND THE AUSTRALIAN SPIRIT, n.d.)
Another example of unity is when Mr Cribbage threatens to shoot Red Dog if he were to ever come back again. Within the next day the Cribbage’s hear a knock on their door. Mrs Cribbage looks out the window and immediately sits back down. “Who is it?” Mr Cribbage asks. “Everyone.” She replies. The entire community of Dampier unifies to show up at the Cribbages’ doorstep to support one another and Red Dog. This is how Stenders thinks Australians are as people, people that unify in tough times and celebrate our success.
Another way that Stenders has embraced Australian identity is through Australia’s unique culture. Stenders has used Australia’s landscape, and its people to display this. The unforgiving and harsh landscape reflects the resilience of the people contained within it. The Australian landscape has been represented in this film through the use of well-chosen camera angles that display Australia’s unique landscape. Examples of these cam...