Film: 1898

Places + Locations | 1950 | Sound | B/W

Synopsis:

A reasonably respectful if staged film about a corroboree and the burial customs of a tribe of Australia aborigines who live in an area of Australia that is well vegetated with good soil and rainfall. Well filmed.

Title over a map of Australia. Four aborigine men are sitting on the ground under a tree and are in silhouette. Four men are sitting around a camp fire, in the sun, naked except for loin coverings made from unwoven grasses, there is virgin bush in the background and their spears are stuck in the soil nearby. Two are bearded older aborigine men. Two younger men are talking and laughing.

A group of seven men are in a shady gully in the bush, painting their bodies with the soil and water. A group of nearly naked men at the waterhole apply body paint. A group of adolescent boys with initiation scars across their chests laugh and talk. One younger aborigine applies body paint beside the billabong and a line of young men walk through the bush on the other side of the water. A long line of men carrying spears and wearing white body paint for mourning, approach the funeral platform . There is a close-up of a man leading the men in a single file, and they all carry a bunch of leaves and a spear, and ceremoniously weave their way past the camera. Two adolescent males beat on sticks and another plays a didgeridoo as the line of men progress.

The line of stamping and prancing men circles the funeral platform and they continue to chant and ceremoniously pace. In single file they chant and wave their bunches of leaves in time. The men stamp in unison around the funeral platform. Three beat with ceremonial sticks and the fourth plays the didgeridoo as all the others stamp their feet and dance in the dusty soil a round the funeral site, as they turn it is seen they have bunches of leaves in the backs of their loincovering strings, which see to give them tails like animals. The tiny body of a dead infant, wrapped in paper bark is lifted by a male onto the funeral platform, and the men of the tribe sit down on logs and around the platform. With much waving of branches and chanting and stamping the men bring a spirit pole forward and place it in the ground near the funeral platform, it is about 1.5 metres high and 20 centimetres, and has a circle of small pieces of bark near its top.

Four aborigine men are in open grass-land, with a backdrop of trees and vegetation, one man stands with his spear resting on the ground and the other three are sitting, decorating a spirit pole of a dead person to be used in a funeral ceremony. There is a sequence of shots showing the pole increasingly decorated in white in intricate aboriginal painting. Three men creep out of the bush with much body paint decorating their faces and bodies, and one carries a spear. They walk upright across a grassy area, there is a high outcrop of land with trees in the background. A line of men circle a large pile of vegetation and dance ceremoniously with their spears and chant, the spirit pole rests diagonally on a forked stick in the foreground, the three young men circle the group with their beating sticks and the fourth plays his didgeridoo. A group of young men are sitting on the ground with their beating sticks, one plays the didgeridoo. The men creep in single file around the pile of vegetation with those playing their music dancing behind them. A close up of a man chanting ferociously with one hand as he aims his spear at the pile of leaves and the other holds his extra spears. There is a close up of a young man playing his didgeridoo. The men now dance around the spirit pole. The didgeridoo player and stick beaters play on. There is a pleasing picture in close-up of the didgeridoo player's face.

Men surround the spirit pole and the dug out but smooth earth which surrounds it, they rest their spear tips at a central point in the middle of the circle and under the spirit pole. There is a close up of a man with a bark-wrapped bundle which contains the dried blood of the deceased. This man and another, also with a package in his mouth, and carrying spears, dance around the spirit pole, while all the other men surround them in a circle and chant and dance.

Some men of the tribe sit on the dusty ground and rub the bones with red ochre. There is a close-up of four men watching, one wears a white, feather and down head band. Two young men sit on the ground with the bark wrapped bones. There is a close-up of two painted male faces watching. The men circle the spirit stick chanting and stamping as one young man packs the hollow stick with the bones. Two men watch. The man with the white feather head band laughs in close-up. Another man with white paint all over his face watches seriously.

The young man has filled the spirit pole with the bones and stuffs bark into the end with a small poking stick, he is surrounded by the chanting tribesmen. There is a silhouette of a small group of men, one playing a didgeridoo and others beating their music sticks, sitting next to a vegetation humpy; an aesthetically pleasing low shot with a wide expanse of sky and clouds.

In front of a couple of older gum trees, a group of women and children rise and walk away, they are naked except for small loin coverings and one older girl carries the burning fire pieces. The women are joined by some spear-carrying men and they walk with the children and two dogs across the open grassy country towards the treed country. The tribe moves away across the land and a man picks up a little boy and carries him on his shoulders.


To request more details on this film, please contact us quoting Film number 1898.