Places + Locations | 1940 | Sound | B/W
The map of Australia, focusing on the Northern part, in the centre is the Northern territory, to the right is Queens land, the map also has illustrations of a Kangaroo and trees on it. The narrator tells us that in the North of Australia live the Mara tribe of about 400. The map now zooms to Arnhem bay in the North West to Blue Mud Bay, these place names are written in a large arrows, the gulf of Carpentaria to the East, this we are told is where the tribes live and that they consist of three clans.
Aerial shot of the Australian outback. The camera travels along the land located by the sea coast, the land seems to be barren with only a few trees visible, arching like a spine through the landscape. The narrator tells us that the trees are Mangrove trees and that the rivers are filled with alligators. The Wandarang tribe marches across the dry landscape, mangrove trees far in the distance, they are a nomadic tribe, carrying spears. Side shot as they cross grass land, one is carrying a child above their head. The narrator says that they are still living the 'ways of the stone age,' against this we see four of them as they gaze outward trees behind them. He then goes on to describe the clothing that they wear, which is made from the bark of a tree, this is to a group of them as they go to the shade of a small tree. They camp round the tree and the next shot that we see is of a group of them standing next to a tree that has two others under it, the group beside the tree leave by the right of the camera, they are clutching spears and the narrator talks of their hunting methods.
Those that left with the spears are now in amongst the trees. Children follow their mother as she travels under the trees into a shadowy area, a woman then begins to clear the ground, this is what the women in the tribe do, getting rid of the 'prickly grass leaf,'. There are several shots of the women who are dressed exactly the same as the men, a small apron on their waist going to their thighs. One of the aborigines sits cross legged under the shadow of the trees, spinning a piece of wood against other pieces of wood, trying to use friction as a means to create fire, to the left of the screen is a spear with a billy bag attached to it, two others sit to the fire fighters left. Once the embers have been lit, he picks up the charcoal and blows into it, spreading the smoke, we see him as he does this moving the charcoal from side to side and face close to the charcoal blowing on it, smoke gathers and he places the smoky charcoal amongst wood on the floor. A shot looking over a field , in the foreground is a tree with aborigines attending beside, the fire is now fully lit and across the field we can see another tree with another group sitting beside it, the fire we are told keeps them warm at night.
'In the season of Monsoon rain,' the narrator begins as we see a man climb up a tree, watched on by another, the narrator tells us that they create shelters in monsoon season, the man is skilfully and naturally climbing up a tree that has straight sides. We see him hack at the top of the tree, along its circumference and then a shot of the man descending the tree from the other side. As he reaches the bottom he and his friend remove the bark from the tree creating a long thin tube of bark which they carry off. The man brings the tube back to the camp where part of a shelter is already built, in the background a couple of people walk towards the camp with more materials. The materials are then dropped, one of the men bends the bark and puts it into the ground, bending them over to connect with the rest of the partially constructed. We then see a frame that has been constructed, in the background a man puts 'paper bark' over the frame in order to prevent rain from getting into the gumbo, in the foreground a child leans against one of the constructions. We then see a man sitting under the shelter facing the camera, his wife is putting on the paper bark in the rain, along with another child. We then see a large shelter, the bark has been bent over and supported so that on side of the seltzer is exposed while the other side is protected, a large crowd gather inside this shelter, smoke is coming from one of their fires. A young mother holds Brest feeds a baby, directly looking at the camera, a man is sat behind her.
A woman leaves a shelter, we can see another shelter behind it, and a frame is above the shelter, a group of children sit outside under the frames, the woman walks to the shelters on the other side of the camp. Some fires can be seen and we are told that these fires are lit to keep away mosquitoes during the night. The frames that we previously saw are actually sleeping platforms the fires lit below them and this is what is presented on the screen, we see them lying on the platforms preparing for sleep. A woman lies on top of the frame, people are under the frame, a mama comes up from beneath the frame and joins her, smoke fills the shot. A man lies next to a fire on the ground. We then see various shots of the Aborigines lying next to the fires, the narrator tells us that fires are used or different purposes during different parts of the year, and that many of the aborigines have scars on their chests from rolling onto the fires in their sleep.
It is morning now and a group of Aborigines gather by a fire, one gets up with his spear and goes to the right of the screen, we are told that the morning is the time for hunting. Side shot of Aborigine women walking through the foliage, they are collecting grubs, honey and small animals. A group near the front stop, squat down and start to hack at the ground in search of food. Looking over rocks by the sea we can see the male hunters standing holding spears, fishing as the sea washes around them. From behind we see one of the men as he launches his spear into the water in search for food, two others are in the distance. Now we see a man standing on a rock holding his spear aloft as he prepares to strike another two stand close by him, in the distance power lines are visible, two strike, almost simultaneously, the two that caught the catch bring it towards the camera, large fish.
Three children run onto the beech, bending down they start to dig on the beech looking for turtle eggs, we see a close up of this as they pull turtles eggs from the hole, placing it into their billy bag. A group of Aborigine women cross a field, they bend over digging up Yam wood, which is apparently their potato, there is a close up as one of them collects one and puts it into a bag. Then we see a group in the swamp collecting lily wood which is a native delicacy, the swamp itself is dense and the water reflective. There is a close of two of them bending over using their hands to look for food in the water, they pick up a long tube and start to eat from it. It is low tide now and we can see the women and the children searching for shellfish amongst the reef, in the background a sandy beech. A family walk amongst the trees to the camp, on the shoulder of the male is a python, a long snake, he is followed by a female and a child. A fire is heated and the python is placed on it to take away the slickness, so that it can be rolled up for cooking. We see the man from behind as he rolls up the python, a fire is in front of him while a child and mother look on, he is to cook the snake by covering it in ash. The man binds the snake while the mother clears the fire to reveal the as which they place the snake on, covering it, the man seemingly oblivious when his hands connect with the fire. Another group come to the camp, we see them join with some others in by a fire, they are carrying a lizard that is called a goanna, according to the narrator this tastes like 'lobster'. We see an elderly woman as she prepares dough, two others sit beside her fire as she wraps the dough, a small dog is with them, drinking from a container, Close shot of the woman as she places the dough in an oven in the ground, covering the hole. One of the women sits holding the joint of meat, she calves it by biting onto it and tearing a strip off, a child sits beside her, peeling turtle eggs. Another man sat down uses his hands to gut meat, and we again see the woman as she breaks the joint in two, a dog sniffs around at the food and the woman hits the dog with a fist while another aborigine reaches over and a piece of the meat. We then see a young child eat the meat, a person reaches from being and tugs at their hair jokingly. Around a fire place shellfish is placed in the centre, a man stands over while a large group of women sit around the fire, we then see a close up of them as smoke passes them. The narrator tells us that shell fish is also popular, and we can see a large pile of it being cooked on the fire, a woman takes a bite and then puts something down, a young child breaks up some food, then we see a child who is eating honey which is found in the hollows of dead trees. A shot that encompasses the camp where we can see the shelter and the smoke that is coming from the fires as people eat their food.
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