The Last WaveSOC 118 “The Last Wave”-Peter Weir dir.(1977)In the film, The Last Wave, the director is trying to communicate theidea of a culture within a culture or sub culture. The dominant culture in thefilm is the white members of society living in Australia. The subculture in thefilm is the Aborigines who were natives to the land before the white peoplesettled in Australia.
The natives sustained their cultural beliefs andideologies while living in largely populated cities. The dominant white cultureimposes their laws , ideas of societal values and moral beliefs on the nativeAborigines. Forcing them to abide by a different law system and way of lifethan what their peoples have practiced for hundreds of years. In the movie thelawyer, David, represents the dominant culture to the Aborigines because herepresents the law that is controlling their fate in the white culture.The director is also giving us many symbols or visual communication suchas the consistency of water in the film as well as, the overbearing control ofdarkness. The film is shot in shadows and overall is very dark , almost forcingus to look beyond the obvious plot and storyline and into the meaning or whatthe film/director is trying to tell us. The darkness in the film can be seen asunconsciousness.
It can also be seen as a prediction of the darkness that willoccur in the world when the last wave comes. The last wave meaning a gianttidal wave that will cover the earth , killing humanity. This idea is similarto the Christian belief in the flood that was sent down centuries ago to destroyall the evil in the world.
Also, all the modern aspects of the movie (courtroom,David’s office..etc) are filmed in light.
While, all of the Aborigines’ scenesare filmed in darkness or shadows. Giving me the impression of somethingmysterious or not understood by the whites concerning the Aborigines. The factthat all the modern scenes are filmed in light can also support the idea of thewhite culture being the predominate culture in the film but yet not dominantenough to take away the shadows(mysterious , mystical)aspect of the Aborigines.The lawyer, David, Also goes through a series of dreams and premonitions.This is stressing the idea of mind power and mystical strength that theAborigines have. In that way they can be seen as the dominant culture.
Davidis stuck between two worlds. The world he knows and understands and the otherworld that he is definitely a part of but does not understand. As he tries tograpple with the idea that he may be linked to the Aborigines, his own culturalbeliefs are changing. He is forming a complex view on life, a combination ofways of viewing the world by both the white Christians and the Aborigines.
The dream sequences in the film are sometimes difficult to distinguishfrom the warped reality that is being portrayed. Overall, they do give us achance to think and attempt to comprehend what is going through the mind ofDavid. For he cannot distinguish at times what is real and not real. But whatis real depends on if you perceive it as real as an individual.
To me, the film is saying that their is a definite cultural conflictbetween the Christians and the Aborigines living in Australia. Whichever onethe viewer perceives as being dominant or subdominant, he will perceive the factthat their is a culture clash. The viewer may also see the idea that theAborigines(tribal) are not understood in white society and David is the only onewho can.
He is the link between the two worlds, and at the same time he is thewall separating them.Overall, I feel the film was good concerning the ideas behind thestoryline. But due in part to the director’s fetish for water and darkness, healmost destroys the storyline to me. And without the storyline, you cannotinterpret the film in a well structured way. Also, the symbolism is sopredominant, it points at the viewers lack of intelligence .
Similar to someonerepeating themselves while speaking over and over and over and over, merely tostress a point. Too bad by that time the point is beyond stressed it is almostdestroyed completely.