Analysis Of Archetypal Symbols In The Film "The Last Wave"

1758 words - 7 pages

March 24, 2003TAG Period 2Visual Literacy "The Last Wave"Themes of "The Last Wave"Australian director Peter Weir's groundbreaking film "The Last Wave" is one of the most symbol - rich films ever made. It is a great triumph of film, and the first film ever to be based around Aboriginal ideas and use Aboriginal actors. The film explores Aboriginal culture and social conflict, while at the same time being a watery thrill ride. The film has several main themes, which may not seem apparent by merely watching the film, but rather doing in-depth analysis of every minor image or event in the film, and obviously is not a film to be casually viewed, but carefully studied, for it hides it's true themes very well under the guise of being a suspense movie about strange weather. Through careful observation, the major themes of "The Last Wave" can be seen as both culture subjugation and an archetypal Hero's Journey.The main theme of the film is less evident than it's advertised theme, which is a story about one man's struggle to overcome a natural apocalypse, or the theme of man versus nature. However, if one carefully studies the film, one can see that this is not the main theme at all, but rather a focal point for a greater conflict. The conflict of man versus man in culture subjugation, or society versus society. Throughout the entire film, you can clearly see how the cultural gap between the tribal Aborigines in the city and the white people create a tension between their two worlds, tension that is supposed to be ended by a great wave sometime in the immediate future. From the very beginning, the tension between the white people and the Aborigines is evident. In the first scene, in a small desert town inhabited by white people and Aborigines, you can see the stark contrast between the reactions of the white people to the strange weather, and the reactions of the aboriginal children to the strange weather. For the white children, the rain in the desert is a novelty, and they splash about in it gleefully. However, when the aboriginal children sense the impending storm, they become cautious and guarded. This difference in reaction is one of many factors of tension between the dominant white culture and the oppressed and assimilated Aborigines.Note, however, that is culture subjugation rather than culture clash, because their is tension but no open struggle. The tension between the two cultures never reaches the point of conflict, and the struggle of the Aboriginal people not to be completely controlled remains a silent struggle. Even the coming Apocalypse cannot be believed to be brought about by the Aborigines as a direct attack against the white man. All they know is that the Wave is going to come, and they're not planning on telling the white people about it. The Aboriginals can simply retreat to the Dream - Time while the wave washes away the oppressive culture and gives them their pre - white people world again, or so the film suggests. However, to say...

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