study guide - Riverbank Arts Centre, Main Street, Newbridge, Co ...
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study guide - Riverbank Arts Centre, Main Street, Newbridge, Co ...

A STUDY GUIDE by Gary Simmons and Vyvyan Stranieri

Industry and publicacclaimAT THE TIME of the publicationof this study guide there is a lotof speculation on the film winningan Oscar at the 2010 AcademyAwards where it has been nominatedas a candidate for Best Foreign LanguageFilm.Samson & Delilah won the prestigiousCamera d’Or award at Cannes (2009)and has had success at Toronto,Zurich, Munich and Telluride Film Festivals.It will also be screened at theLondon Film Festival.Samson & Delilah is not only writtenand directed by Warwick Thornton, itis his debut feature after several shortfilms which also have won nationaland international acclaim and prizes.Stills photographer: Mark RogersCURRICULUM LINKS: Samson & Delilah is suitable for middle andsenior secondary students studying: Australian History, English, Studiesof Society and Environment / Human Society and its Environment / SocialEducation, Indigenous Studies, Media Studies.Why study Samson & Delilah?: This study guide providesa framework for discussion and writing, teaching and learning material,a running sheet and classroom activities to help teachers and studentsdevelop an understanding of Indigenous and non-Indigenous experiencesin Australia as they are delineated in Samson & Delilah. The filmsimultaneously explores the gaps, but also the bridges that exist betweentwo worlds. Given the Central Australian location of the film and itsremoteness to the majority of viewers geographically and personally, thisstudy guide has been written to enhance understanding of a world that ismore often than not glossed over or misconstrued or subject to sometimesreductive conclusions via newspaper and television news reports in thelarge cities where most Australians live.Samson & Delilah recently won BestFeature Film award at Saint-Tropez’sCinema des Antipodes Festival and itsyoung stars, Rowan McNamara andMarissa Gibson, took out the male andfemale acting awards. Australian actorAnthony LaPaglia, who was on thejury, intimated:I think it should become a part of theAustralian school curriculum and allkids should have to watch this film toget a greater understanding of theircountry and where it is at right now.Warwick Thornton, the director, putsit so honestly and accurately in oneof the many interviews he has done inthe wake of the film’s success. In aninterview with Jim Schembri (The Age,21 October 2009), Warwick Thorntonasserts,SCREEN EDUCATION2

Delilah andwrite down the issues you can identifythat the film might explore.Loveafterwatching the filmFirst impressionsIf you take the time to respond tothese simple questions on just aboutany text that you study, you will have asound basis for writing any essays ortasks set for you in class.ActivityPreliminary questions onSamson & Delilah1 What ideas, themes and issuesdoes the film explore? How arethey analysed or explored?2 How does the narrative structure ofthe film work to support its ideas?Is the film linear? Do we have to fillin gaps?3 How do the physical setting andthe cultural context work in the filmto develop its themes and ideas?4 Are characters represented sympathetically?Do they change? Arethe characters stereotyped? Arethey polarised? Do we feel ambivalentabout them?5 How do voice, dialogue, actionand image (visual cues and codes)and their interaction define character?Look here at the mood createdby the use of colour or lack ofcolour at particular moments.6 What values seem to be transmittedin Samson & Delilah? Howis the viewer positioned? Or toput it another way, what are youas viewer invited to accept orreject in the representation ofthe world of Samson & Delilah andits closure?7 Who or what is missing fromthe story?9 What does it say about children,adults, males, females, andcultures?Issues in Samson & DelilahIntroductionThe theatrical trailer to any film willwhet the appetite of the viewer andusually foreshadow the characters andideas that are being represented in thefilm.• Watch the trailer of Samson &What follows is an extract from theSamson & Delilah press kit in whichWarwick Thornton talks about hisideas that generated the making of thefilm. Read what Warwick has to sayabout the love story.Samson & Delilah is a love story, butperhaps not in the traditional sense.It is a story that deals with life on aremote Aboriginal community andthe ways in which one young couplemanage to escape from this mundaneexistence. The central theme that Iwanted to explore is love, but not inthe conventional sense, not a usualsort of love – a love that develops outof survival.It is a story about the many differentways in which love grows. Samsonand Delilah have a very unusual relationshipand their love is strong butunderstated and it develops as theirtrust develops. But will it save them?It’s a film about people who areclassed not even as people – let alonepeople who are allowed to love orhave emotions. They’re not allowed tobe human. They are the untouchables.I believe that the story of these twoyoung lovers, Samson and Delilah, isan important and unique story to tell– it’s an untold story. In the end, eventhough life is going to be hard, I wantSCREEN EDUCATION6

ActivityFind out about the work of an Indigenousartist such as Emily KamKngwarray or any other prominentIndigenous artist and present a datashow or virtual gallery to the class thatshows some of the artist’s work. Getthe rest of the class to talk about whatthey like about the works.In Samson & Delilah, the shot of thedead bird references one of the mostimportant Indigenous visual artists andfilmmakers, the late Michael Riley fromthe Wiradjuri/Gamileroi nation.the audience to feel like there are realpossibilities of success for them … Anew life … Hope.Activity• What kind of a love story do you seein Samson & Delilah and how does itdiffer from a conventional cinematiclove story?Exploitation of IndigenousartThere has been a real boon in thecommercial growth of Indigenous art.The film explores the commodificationof Indigenous Australian art, which isthe strongest sector of Australia’s finearts industry with an annual turnoverof about $100 million a year in 2007.Investors have capitalised on thepopularity of Indigenous art, and insome cases have been accused ofprofiteering from Indigenous artists.In the film, this is revealed in Delilahdiscovering one of Nana Kitty’s paintingsin a gallery run by a non-Indigenousowner. The price tag on one ofher paintings is $22K.The brutal indifference of the owneris also revealed in the scene in whichDelilah tries to sell one of her ownpaintings. Warwick Thornton also addressedthis issue of exploitation in hisshort film Mimi.ActivityThere is a quite vociferous debate overwhat happens to Indigenous art. Hereare just some of the views of the saleof Indigenous art.• Should Indigenous art be for privatesale and profit?• Should it only be exhibited in publicgalleries?• Should there be fairer prices paid tothe artists?• How can this be guaranteed?• What are the cultural and ethicalconsiderations that surround Indigenousart?• What do you think?This link will take you to a website thatoutlines a Four Corners episode onABC TV which investigates this veryissue.Michael Riley is known for his evocativeand lyrically symbolic photographsand his stunning documentary representationof his own wider community,in which his portraits capture thebeauty and strength of his subjects.To explore Michael Riley’s art, visit theNational Gallery of Australia websitefor a comprehensive investigation ofhis work.Activity• Why might Warwick Thornton havechosen to reference Michael Riley?Petrol sniffingLike the film Yolngu Boy (StephenJohnson, 2001), Samson & Delilahconfronts petrol sniffing head on. Theperpetual image of Samson inhalingfumes addictively, reinforced by Delilah’sown use of petrol to obliterate thepain of violent assault provides a clearpicture of a social problem, that whilenot endemic, must be recognised andconfronted in young Indigenous lives.This honesty is one of the strengthsof the film. There is no skirting aroundpetrol sniffing and its consequences.Interestingly enough, it is Delilah whois the catalyst in Samson’s detox.She removes the temptation and thesource of Samson’s addiction in moreways than one.It is very easy to jump to conclusionson any sort of substance abuse. WarwickThornton has decided to graspSCREEN EDUCATION7

the nettle on this issue and subvertprejudices and stereotypes that surroundthose who fall into substanceabuse. One of the messages of thefilm is that the petrol sniffer is someone’sfriend or family. In the case ofSamson, there is also a young manwith a generous spirit who is beingextinguished by his addiction.Read the following outline on petrolsniffing and write a report for anewspaper which investigates petrolsniffing with its personal and socialcosts .Role of Christianity inDelilah’s lifeThere is a sequence in the film inwhich Delilah wanders into a church.She looks at all the iconography witha kind of reverence. Throughout, theclergyman looks on without saying aword and watches her leave withoutany attempt to comfort her, given herstate of mind and her physical injuries.At the end of the film, Delilah places across on the tin wall.Activity• Why do you think Warwick Thorntondecided to include these sequencesin the film?• Research the influence and impactof the Christian church on Indigenouspeople.• To explore how Indigenous artistshave represented imposed Christianityin their communities look at which represents the exhibitionHoly, Holy, Holy a focus on:… the enduring influence of Christianityon Aboriginal people lookingprimarily at contemporary visualart, contextualised by historicalmaterial. The first contact that manyIndigenous people had with whitesociety was with missionaries. Thesemissionaries went with the objectiveof converting Aboriginal people toChristianity.Cultural practicesAs distant observers, we might bepuzzled by some of the culturalpractices that are integral to the communityin which Samson and Delilahlive. You might have been puzzled bythe cutting of hair by both Delilah andSamson at an intense moment of sadness.You might have been puzzled bythe attack on Delilah by the ‘aunties’on Nana’s death. You might be puzzledby the lack of verbal communicationbetween Samson and Delilah(even in the context of Samson’s apparentinability to speak). You might beunfamiliar with Nana’s reference to thematching skin or kinship of Samsonand Delilah.The official website willprovide you with responses to theseelements of the film which you mighthave found outside your own experience.Activity• Before going to this website, developa collective series of questionswhich have perplexed youas a class. Then, go to the officialwebsite and find the explanationsto the questions. If the question isnot dealt with, teachers can joinSamson & Delilah on Facebook andthose questions can be answered.SCREEN EDUCATION8

Violence against womenWithout wanting to reduce this to justan issue, violence against Indigenouswomen is clearly illustrated in thesequence in which Delilah is abductedand violated by the young non-Indigenousmales.There are two contexts in looking atthis sequence.The first is that there has been a lot ofadverse publicity in the press aboutviolence against Indigenous womenin Aboriginal communities and nearbytowns as if the perpetrators of violenceare usually Indigenous males.The second context is the history ofviolence against Indigenous femalesby non-Indigenous males going backcenturies.Activity• Why did the filmmaker include thissequence and why did he not revealthe violence first-hand?InequalityThere are obvious moments in the filmin which the inequalities between Indigenousand non-Indigenous peopleare highlighted.Some of these moments in the film arehighlighted when Delilah sits watchingthe two schoolgirls eating ice creamand using a mobile phone. Delilah isso near yet so far. There is a gapingchasm between Delilah and the girlshere. The indifference and discomfortof non-Indigenous diners in the cafestrip is another moment in which thisdivide is tangible.In the community, it is the very basichealth care services. Nana is merelygiven prescription drugs as a panacea.It is the basic housing and lack of anyinfrastructure which might also drawattention to the inequalities.While the film is both personal andpolitical, there is a stronger emphasison the human story of Samson andINDIGENOUS PEOPLE TODAY arethe most disadvantaged group ofpeople in Australia. On all the majorindicators such as health, housing,education and employment,Indigenous people are significantlyworse off than other Australians.In 2007, the statistics highlightsome of the big gaps betweenIndigenous and non-Indigenouspeople.• Life expectancy is seventeenyears less for Indigenous people:that’s 59.4 years for Indigenousmen vs. 76.6 years for allAustralian men and 64.8 yearsfor Indigenous women vs. 82.0years for all Australian women.• Infant mortality (the rate atwhich babies die) is three timesas high, and Indigenous babiesare twice as likely to be lowbirth weight, which makes themmuch more vulnerable to illness.• There are significantly higherrates of chronic diseases, communicablediseases, disabilitiesand mental health problemsamongst Indigenous people.• Indigenous students are half aslikely to stay at school until theend of Year 12 as other students.• The average Indigenous householdincome is only 62 per centof the national average (thismeans Indigenous householdsget an average of $364/wkITEM 2. Source: .Delilah. However, the film should makeyou think further about these inequalitiesand perhaps about what shouldand can be done to overcome theseinequalities.ActivityRead the following data at as well as the text in ITEM 2 andpresent a paper to the class on thesecompared to $585/wk for otherfamilies, as of 2001 Census),and over half of Indigenouspeople get most of their incomefrom government welfare.• The Indigenous unemploymentrate is about three times higherthan that of non-Indigenouspeople. Many Indigenous peoplealso rely on governmentfundedwork unemploymentprograms, like the CommunityEmployment Development Program(CDEP).• Indigenous people are muchmore likely to be renting ahouse (63.5 per cent vs. 26.6per cent overall) rather thanowning their own home (12.6per cent vs. 40.5 per cent overall).• Overcrowding in housing is amajor problem. This is worst inremote communities where upto seventeen people can sharea three-bedroom house.• Indigenous people are muchmore likely to be victims of violence,for example Indigenouspeople make up around 15 percent of murder victims, eventhough they only make up 2.3per cent of the population.• There are much higher levelsof substance abuse, family violenceand suicide in Indigenouscommunities.• Indigenous young people aremore than four times more likelyto be sexually abused.inequalities.Moving forwardOver the last few years, some measuresof Indigenous wellbeing have improved,for example more Indigenouschildren are completing school than inthe past.But Australia has also gone backwardsin other measures. For example, moreSCREEN EDUCATION9

• Go to YouTube and search for‘“Stop this Intervention” Larissa Behrendt– Indigenous Law Professor& Author Talks Sanity’. This will providean Indigenous response to theIntervention .Activity• What is the raft of issues that surroundthis issue and why has itcreated such an outcry?In conclusionActivityIndigenous people are being lockedup than ever before. Between 2002and 2006, the imprisonment rate forIndigenous women increased by thirtyfourper cent and the imprisonmentrate for Indigenous men increased byover twenty per cent.Other measures, like health and lifeexpectancy, have only gotten a littlebetter. Australia compares badly toother similar countries in terms of theongoing treatment of its Indigenouspeoples. In Canada and New Zealandfor example, there have beenmassive improvements in areas ofdisadvantage like life expectancy. Inthese countries the gap between howlong Indigenous and non-Indigenouspeople live has narrowed from abouttwenty years to seven years. Thisshows that real change is possible –and Australia could do a lot better.Indigenous languagesThe conversations between Nana andDelilah are in their own local language.This adds an authenticity to the filmand underlines a film made to privilegeIndigenous experience.Activity• Find out what this language isand see if you can learn a fewwords of it.A peripheral issue –The Northern TerritoryInterventionThe Northern Territory NationalEmergency Response (also referredto as ‘the Intervention’) is a packageof changes to welfare provision, lawenforcement, land tenure and othermeasures, introduced by the Australianfederal government under JohnHoward in 2007, nominally to addressclaims of rampant child sexual abuseand neglect, as well as addressingchildren’s health issues in NorthernTerritory Aboriginal communities.Soldiers and extra police were sentinto Indigenous communities. Therehave been claims of lack of consultationwith Indigenous communities onthe way in which it has been introducedand implemented. There areboth Indigenous and non-Indigenouspeople who regard this intervention aspaternalism.The package was the Federal government’sresponse to the Territory government’spublication of Little Childrenare Sacred, but implemented onlytwo out of ninety-seven of the report’srecommendations. The response hasbeen criticised, but also receivedbipartisan parliamentary support. Thecurrent Prime Minister Kevin Ruddhas and continues to support theresponse, though he did make someadjustments to its implementation.• With a film like Samson & Delilah,there will be the ideas of the filmmakerand your own ideas that canbe drawn from the film. Read thefull article at andwrite your response to the points ofview being expressed in this article.Style and the language offilmOne of the differences between Samson& Delilah and many other filmsthat you will watch is the use of naturalrhythms of both the day and the nightto register human experience. Quiteoften the light of a dying campfire willbecome a cue that indicates the dyingday and this precedes the dawn ofa new day with its fresh and intenselight.There is also a focus on image, giventhe paucity of dialogue.Warwick Thornton’s evocative visualstyle seems a perfect medium fortelling his stories. The use of thevisual medium has a tangible link tothe Indigenous tradition of oral storytelling. Film is the storyteller of thetwenty-first century and has becomea vehicle for foregrounding Indigenousexperience.Stylistically, Thornton uses wide-angleSCREEN EDUCATION10

long shots and extreme close ups. Thecamera lingers and caresses characterslovingly. He records the reactions,those reflective moments that betrayflickers of understanding and growth.You can see and feel the aching heartat times, the inner pain, the tensionand confusion, the rhythms of a growingaffection.Warwick Thornton trained at theCentral Australian Aboriginal MediaAssociation (CAAMA) in radio andfilmmaking, he then went on to studycinematography at the Australian FilmTelevision and Radio School in NSW(AFTRS). The first film that he shot wasfor Rachel Perkins from the Arrente,Kalkadoon nation: the award-winningRadiance (1998).Warwick Thornton likes to spend considerabletime on his projects duringthe pre-production stage. Rather thanwriting his script, he photographs howhe sees his films.Activity• How does this work process affectthe look and feel of Samson& Delilah?Activity• Warwick Thornton allows the viewerto get close to his characters. Howdoes the camera position the viewerin specific sequences? Use thesegmentation at the end to refreshyour memory.Soundtrack and sounddesignThe sound of the wheels of cars asthey hit bumps in the bitumen as theypass over the bridge, the sounds ofthe natural world are all part of theorganic soundscape of Samson &Delilah. The film also relies on music totell its story. The music of Ana Gabriel,a Mexican singer, is important to Delilah.She swims in this music.Here is the list of tracks and theirsources.‘Nightblindness’ by Troy Cassar-DaleyWritten by David Gray (Chrysalis Music/MushroomMusic Publishing)Licensed courtesy Tarampa Music PtyLtd‘We Have Survived’Performed by Scott Thornton.Written by B.Willoughby (MushroomMusic Publishing)Bart Willoughby in 1978 formed theseminal Aboriginal reggae/rock band,No Fixed Address. No Fixed Addressopened the door for many artists tofollow, as one of the first and successfulAboriginal bands to secure commercialairplay and tour internationally.He also starred in the Australian filmWrong Side of the Road (Ned Landers,1983).‘All I Have To Offer You Is Me’ byCharley Pride.Composed by Dallas Frazier, A.L.‘Doodle’ Owens.© 1969 Unichappell Music Inc. &Acuff-Rose Music, Inc.By kind permission of Warner/ChappellMusic Australia & Sony ATV TunesLicensed courtesy SonyBMG MusicAustralia Pty Limited‘Jesus Gonna Be Here’Performed by Scott ThorntonWritten by Tom WaitsPublished by Jalma MusicLicensed courtesy of Universal MusicPublishing MGB Pty Limited‘Crystal Chandelier’Performed by Scott ThorntonWritten by Ted Harris© Plainspoken MusicUsed by permission of Southern MusicPublishing‘Talisma’ by Ana GabrielWritten by Paulo Massadas / MiguelPlopschi / Michael SullivanPublished by SonyATV Music PublishingAustralia and © Edicoes MusicaisTapajos LtdaAll rights admin & licensed by EMIMusic Publishing Australia Pty LtdLicensed courtesy SonyBMG MusicAustralia Pty Limited‘Como Olvidar’ by Ana GabrielWritten by GabrielPublished by SonyATV Music PublishingAustraliaLicensed courtesy SonyBMG MusicSCREEN EDUCATION11

Australia Pty Limited‘Sunshiny Day’ by Charley PrideWritten by Ben PetersPublished by Ben Peters Music (USA)/ Fable Music Pty Ltd (Australia)Licensed courtesy SonyBMG MusicAustralia Pty Limited‘Little Baby Jesus’Performed by Marissa GibsonTraditional‘Tjamu Tjamu’ by Ilkari MaruWritten by Warren Tunkin, Larry BradyCourtesy CAAMA Music Pty Ltd‘Wasting Your Life’ by The TablelandDriftersWritten by Joe Davey, Lexie HoltCourtesy CAAMA Music Pty Ltd‘Warlpiri Woman’ by Lajamanu TeenageBandWritten by Alfred Rose, KennethMartinCourtesy CAAMA Music Pty Ltd‘Black Girl’Performed by Scott ThorntonWritten by Jimmy Chi‘Come Back Again’Performed by Gregwyn Gibson, MatthewGibson, and Steve BrownWritten by Shannon Gallagher, GregwynGibsonDesert Mulga Band Track One, Two &ThreePerformed by Gregwyn Gibson, MatthewGibson, and Steve BrownWritten by Shannon Gallagher, GregwynGibson, Matthew Gibson, SteveBrownActivity• Take three of the songs and writeabout the importance of each songto the film and its characters.Images and theireffectivenessA useful way to start thinking aboutthe film after first viewing is to identifythe images, dialogue or sounds thatmade an immediate impact on theviewer. Explaining why these aspectsof the film (the microcosm) made animpression and then speculating onhow the emotional effects and tracesare deposited in the viewer. This willprovide a framework for crystallisingan understanding of the film’s broaderperspective (the macrocosm).The following exercise will help youdelineate your first impressions ofSamson & Delilah by identifying andrecording the indelible and memorablemoments in the film. Write about fiveof your lasting images or impressionsfrom the film. There is an example tostart you off.Activity• What – the image, sound, dialogue.(The reflection of Samson in the waterwhen Delilah is bathing him …)• Why – the reason that the impactwas profound(I wasn’t expecting to see this reflection.Warwick Thornton likes to suggestrather than show everything.He arouses curiosity in the viewerby …)• How – the ways in which theseemotional effects are created(There is great tenderness in thissequence. They are both enjoyingthe moment for a range of reasons.And as a ritual, it is also washingaway their pasts.)Four key scenes for closeanalysisIn a film like Samson & Delilah in whichthe dialogue is sparse, the soundtrack,the silences and of course the imagesare heightened in importance. Thereare conversations between Delilah andher Nana, Kitty, in her local tongue andGonzo verbalises aloud as he tries toprise Samson and Delilah open. Thesewords are of course significant butthere is an image-based narrative thatdemands the viewer’s active attention.Images in Samson & Delilah washover the viewer in cinematic waves,determining our understanding of boththe narrative and the characters.Opening sequences will introducecharacters, foreshadow ideas and setup expectations for the viewer. Theendings of films reveal any growth inmoral courage and/or self-knowledge.Sequences in which an epiphanous or‘lightbulb’ moment for one of the charactersoccurs are also worth studyingclosely.View the following sequences whichare time coded. Use the promptsprovided for each excerpt to developa close analysis. When responding tothe prompts, think about the effectscreated by the director’s choices.There is a visual language that is usedby Warwick Thornton to tell the storywhich you must understand. Usethe prompts to write brief notes ORdiscuss the following elements of foursequencesAnother day (0.00 – 5.10)»»The colours used in the credits»»The position of the camera whenSamson wakes and the effects ofthis closeness»»The soundtrack and its specificcommentary»»The ways in which Samson’smovements are followed by thecamera»»The sense of life’s rhythms in thecommunity that are established inthe opening sequence»»The ways in which Samson’s characteris established»»The comparisons between Samson’slife and that of Delilah andhow they are made»»The use of natural organic sounds»»The relationship between Delilahand Nana and how this is establishedby both actions and the waythe camera films their relationship»»Why the camera closes in oncharacter rather that opens up thesetting in this sequenceListen to the music(19.09 – 21.57)This sequence registers the firsttangible interest and connectionbetween Samson and Delilah. She haspreviously made it clear that she willSCREEN EDUCATION12

continue to exclude him from her life.However, in this sequence the flamesof their love are kindled.»»The importance of the radio andmusic in Samson’s life»»Delilah’s glance across to Samson’shouse»»The choice of music that immersesDelilah»»Samson’s dance to his own musicand what it says about him»»Delilah’s response to Samson viaher unseen gaze»»The blending of their respectivesoundtracks»»The privileging of Delilah’s soundtrackand the blocking out of Samson’ssoundtrack as she watcheshim dance»»The intervention of Samson’sbrother and the response of bothSamson and Delilah to this momentwhich subverts so much ofwhat has been revealed about theirlivesThe marginalised(54.00 – 61.10)This long sequence set in AliceSprings reveals a divided world.Gonzo, Samson and Delilah live rudimentarylives under the bridge wherefood and reminiscences are shared.The venture into the non-Indigenousworld is one where they experienceindifference, hostility and violence.»»The photo of Gonzo and hisdaughter that Samson looks at»»Delilah’s reaction to his invasion ofGonzo’s meagre possessions»»Gonzo’s character and qualitiesand how they are manifested andrepresented in the film»»The advice given to Samson andthe context in which it is given»»Gonzo’s reflections on love»»The lighting in this part of the sequence(the fire is a common propin the film)»»The holding of hands as an extensionof Gonzo’s yearnings»»The use of the space under thebridge as a set and setting»»The visit to both the art suppliersand the gallery and how Delilah isframed by the camera»»The shots of the well-heeledschoolgirls and the reasons fortheir inclusion. Delilah’s reaction tothem.»»The slow tracking shot past outdoorcafe as Delilah tries to sell herown artHome (87.30 – 93.22)»»The role of Delilah in Samson’srenewal»»Her tears as her signature music isplayed»»The palpable strengths of Delilahand how they are recorded»»The placing of the cross on the tinwall»»The bathing of Samson and howthe tenderness of this sequence iselicited by the filmmaker»»The message to Samson from hisfather and Samson’s reaction»»The shared gaze and its impact»»The final song and its clear statement»»The sense of hope and how it isconveyedCharactersLandscape as characterLandscape is naturally imbued withmeanings and stories. What mightlook like the middle of nowhere forone person can become the middleof somewhere for someone else. Alandscape can enter the inner world oflives. Humans can feel it and breatheit. It can trigger memories and desireand transform minds, souls andhearts. The landscape can go frombeing real to being a metaphor forsomething else.Activity• Write a comparison of the landscapesof the community in whichSamson and Delilah live and theirlife in Alice Springs.Characters in brief• Write a fifty-word character portraitfor each of the four main charactersin the film. Use the segmentationto reveal which moments in the filmdefine them as characters.• Samson• Delilah• Nana• GonzoSegmentation of Samson& DelilahOpening credits with red title on blackbackground1. Samson stirs to the ironic refrain,‘When I wake up in the Morning …’2. Samson sniffs petrol to start theday.3. Samson emerges from his bedroomand picks up an electricguitar, which is abruptly removedby his brother. This is one of thefew times that Samson is vocal. Heis excluded.4. Delilah stirs embers and supervisesNana Kitty’s medication.5. Samson commandeers a wheelchairfrom another boy.6. Kitty and Delilah paint traditionally.7. A non-Indigenous art dealer andstorekeeper approaches andgreets Kitty. He drops off blankcanvasses and picks up completedpaintings.8. Samson sits in the wheelchairoutside the general store and lets apublic phone ring.9. Delilah walks past Samson withoutacknowledging him. She rolls hereyes once she has passed him.10. Delilah leaves the store. Samsongazes at Delilah and ultimatelythrows a stone, which hits her inthe back.11. Samson writes ‘S for D’ in blacktexta on the wall of the store. Thestorekeeper orders him to leave.12. Delilah wheels Kitty to the makeshifthealth centre and waitsoutside.13. Kitty sits before a Christian cross.14. On the way back home, Samsonraces past Delilah and Kitty in hiswheelchair.15. Samson sits and watches the bandjam.16. Night falls and Samson lies on hisbed with Indigenous radio on in theSCREEN EDUCATION13

ackground.17. Delilah tends to Kitty and keepsthe fire burning before retreating toa car and listening to a signaturesong as she closes her eyes.18. Samson sits in the middle of thedusty road as headlights approachand flash.19. Next morning Samson wakesslowly. There is a drumbeatoutside. He opens a near-emptyfridge. Again, he intently sniffspetrol.20. Kitty wakes slowly and takes hermedication reluctantly. A publicphone rings.21. Samson plays guitar discordantly,until it is removed from him again.Samson shows resentment at this.22. Samson waits outside the store asDelilah passes. He has written ‘Sand D onley ones’ on the wall andis checking Delilah’s reaction tothis.23. Delilah leaves the store and throwsSamson a packet with a snack. Hefollows her and she throws stonesat him.24. While Kitty and Delilah paint, Samsonsits on the fence. He is thetopic of conversation. Kitty urgesDelilah to go off with Samson andassures her that Samson is theright skin.25. Samson follows Delilah and Kittyto the health centre and waitsoutside with Delilah. Ants swarmon the red dirt.26. Samson follows Delilah and Kittyto the church. He throws stones onthe roof while Kitty is inside.27. Samson returns to his room andsniffs petrol.28. Delilah sits outside listening andwatching before returning to thecar to play her favourite song.29. Samson emerges and dancesvigorously to a strong beat. Delilahis fascinated by his dance movements,until he is unplugged. Hermusic and his music merge in thisscene.30. Morning. Samson takes his mattressto Delilah’s but she shuts thegate on him. There is an extendedconflict over his intention to staywith her.31. Kitty laughs at their struggle. UltimatelySamson wins. Samson appearstriumphant. Delilah watcheshim with a mixture of curiosity andapprehension.32. Samson bathes in a sandy waterholehe has scooped out. Hespies and kills a kangaroo, whichhe takes back to Delilah as a gift.He finds his mattress outside thefence.33. Delilah prepares canned fish onSamson’s arrival. Kitty refers to himas Delilah’s ‘husband’. Delilah relentsand offers Samson some fish.34. The roo cooks over an open fire.35. Samson places his mattress closeto that of Delilah under the veranda.There is a silent dispute overterritory and Samson’s mattress isout in the open. But by morning heis close to Delilah.36. Delilah tries to wake Kitty but shehas died during the night.37. Delilah caresses Kitty, her griefgrowing ever more visible.38. Delilah cuts her hair with a knife ina ritual of mourning.39. Samson wakes and immediatelyknows what has happened. He isdeeply respectful and his sympathyis palpable.40. He leaves and returns to his room.He sniffs petrol and emerges ina rage in which he smashes abranch over his brother’s headand starts destroying the musicalinstruments and equipment.41. Samson resumes sniffing beforeretaliation occurs, with Samsonbeing beaten.42. Women in the community beatDelilah, accusing her of not lookingafter Kitty and of being responsiblefor Kitty’s death.43. A painting is burned on a fire.44. Samson has retreated to a vantagepoint overlooking the community.He is nursing his injuries.45. Samson is badly lacerated andbruised. He showers the dirt andblood from his face.46. Samson is chased away by abrother and he goes to Delilah.She is covered by blankets andis sleeping. He pulls the blanketsback gently and she, too, is cutand bruised.47. Samson swabs her wounds.Angered by Delilah’s beating, hegoes on a rampage in which herandomly destroys property.48. As the police arrive, Samson retreatsto his lookout, sniffing petrolcontinuously.49. Samson steals a vehicle at nightand leaves the community withDelilah, who sleeps on the frontseat.50. Samson siphons petrol from a carat a roadhouse and continues drivinguntil he runs out of petrol in themiddle of nowhere.51. Samson and Delilah walk insilhouette through first light to thenearest town.52. Delilah buys food at a supermarket.Samson has stolen extra food,which they eat.53. They make their way to the undercarriageof a bridge.54. They watch Gonzo, a homelessman, with interest but do notspeak to him.55. When Gonzo leaves, Samson riflesthrough his suitcase. He cuts aplastic bottle in half, sniffs petroland moves in on Delilah, only to bepushed away.56. Eventually Delilah kisses Samsonon the forehead, much to his delight.57. Gonzo returns and cooks themsome noodles. He sings/recitesa verse about surviving the whiteman’s world.58. Delilah waits outside Coles. Samsonshoplifts.59. Delilah is fascinated by Indigenousart in the window of the Native AffairsGallery. There is a painting byNana (Kitty) selling for $22,000.60. Under the bridge, Samson againlooks through Gonzo’s belongingsand sees a photo of a youngerman with his daughter. Delilahthrows a stone at Samson in disapproval.61. Gonzo wakes up. He admonishesSamson for sniffing petrol as hehimself drinks wine from the skinfrom a cask.62. Gonzo talks and sings about a lovehe once had. Samson and Delilahlook on.63. Morning. Delilah is awake asSamson sleeps. She removes theSCREEN EDUCATION14

plastic container of petrol andholds Samson’s hand.64. Delilah steals some art materialsand paints on canvas. She tries tosell her work but a non-Indigenousgallery owner dismisses her.65. Delilah sits in a mall. Well-heeledschoolgirls are immersed in theirown world of relative privilege.66. Delilah unsuccessfully tries to sellher painting to diners in the mall.67. Young white males in a car abductDelilah. Samson is oblivious untilit is too late. He futilely chases thecar. He vomits from nausea.68. Samson returns to the camp underthe overpass. In the darkness hesniffs petrol, listening to Gonzo talkin his sleep. Samson passes out.69. Delilah returns bruised and beaten,presumably sexually assaulted.70. Delilah scoops out a hollow inthe sand and sleeps in it. In themorning, she gets up, takes thecontainer of petrol and sniffs forthe first time.71. Gonzo prepares spaghetti andrefuses to share it because Samsonand Delilah won’t talk and join in.72. Finally, after being chided byGonzo, Samson utters his namewith touching difficulty.73. Samson and Delilah try to phonehome but no one answers74. Samson and Delilah leave. Delilahis sniffing heavily now. She aggressivelythrusts one of her paintingsin the faces of diners. They areunnerved. Delilah is asked to leaveby the waitress, who threatens tocall the police.75. They arrive at a church. Delilah isdrawn inside. She sees an IndigenousMadonna and child andreligious iconography. The prieststares and follows her movementsuntil she has left.76. Samson walks ahead of Delilah,oblivious of her being hit by a car.He keeps walking in his petrolinducedfog.77. Samson stays in the fog for over aday. He sees the skid marks on theroad and assumes that Delilah hasbeen killed.78. He cuts his hair off as he mourns.79. Gonzo returns with news that hehas found accommodation withChristians. Gonzo leaves Samsonhis meagre food supply.80. Samson is visibly shaken by Delilah’s‘death’, sobbing convulsively.81. Delilah appears like an apparition,leg in a brace. Samson’s brotherhas arrived to take him home.Samson is carried to the car. As hepasses, he smiles at Delilah. Sheremoves the bottle of petrol andpours it on the ground, throwingaway the container.82. Samson and Delilah drive home.They stop at a service station forpetrol and the fumes get to Samson,who is told ‘no more’.83. Samson reveals a half smile as helooks out the window at the newday. Delilah embraces him andtouches him affectionately.84. On arrival, one of the women inthe community vents her angerat Samson for his irresponsibility.But Samson is going to Delilah’scountry with her to start again.85. Delilah packs. She hears the publicphone ring and answers it, taking amessage. This is the first time thephone has been answered in thewhole film.86. Samson and Delilah are droppedoff at a small shack in her country.87. During the night, Samson hasmade his way to the petrol tank ofthe 4WD and lies prostrate next tothe vehicle in the morning.88. Delilah places Samson in a wheelchair,pours cold water over himand drives the 4WD out of harm’sway.89. Delilah weeps as her signaturemusic by Ana Gabriel plays.90. She activates the windmill andwater flows.91. Delilah gets the house in orderand places a cross on the wall.She takes a gun and shoots akangaroo, which she brings backfor food. Samson looks at Delilahwith a tear in his eye. Huntingkangaroos is men’s business andhe feels ashamed that he can nolonger do this and that Delilah hasto do it.92. Delilah bathes Samson, rubbingsoap over his skin with gentleness.Samson is groomed and wearsfresh clothes.93. Delilah cooks a meal that theyshare. Samson listens to localradio and gets a message over theairwaves that his father is cominghome in six months. Samson isgleeful at this news. Delilah paints.94. There is an ease between them asthey enter each other’s lives.Websites Centre for the MovingImage’s new permanent exhibition,Screen Worlds, has many displaysSCREEN EDUCATION15

which explore and celebrate the richcultural history of Indigenous movingimage making, called Dreamingin Colour, it includes ethnographicfilms, music, community media as wellas interviews with established andemergent filmmakers in the Blak Waveinterviews. Warwick Thornton is justone of the many filmmakers, actorsand artists represented.Cental Australian Aboriginal MediaAssociation (CAAMA) Riley Film Commission, Dreamingin Motion: celebrating Australia’sIndigenous filmmakers.Bruce Isaacs, ‘Screening “Australia”:Companion study guidesavailable from ATOM and - Rabbit-Proof Fence- Beneath Clouds- Yolngu Boy- First Australians (a study guideis available for each of the sevenepisodes)Samson and Delilah’, Screen Education,issue 54, Australian Teachers ofMedia, 2009.Kate Jennings, Sites of Difference,AFI, 1993.Marcia Langton, ‘Well I Heard it on theradio and I saw it on the televisions …’– an essay for the AFC on the policiesand aesthetics of filmmaking by andabout Aboriginal people and things,Australian Film Commission, 1993.Scott Murray (ed.), Back of Beyond:discovering Australian film and television,Australian Film Commission,1988.Nicholas Rothwell, Another Country,Black Inc, 2007.AdditionalinformationThe DVD version of Samson & Delilahis available for sale from 25 November.The package also includes BeckCole’s Making Samson & Delilah andsome of the short films of WarwickThornton.Other works by Warwick Thornton includehis shorts Payback, Mimi, GreenBush and Nana. He has also directedand shot many diverse documentariesincluding Rosalie’s Journey about thestar of the film Jedda, Rosalie KunothMonks.The Australian Mediatheque at theAustralian Centre for the MovingImage is also an extensive resource.Here you can view diverse films andvideos both nationally and internationallyfrom the collections of ACMI andthe National Film and Sound Archiveof Australia. Just like Screen Worlds atACMI, it is free.This study guide was produced by ATOM. (©ATOM 2009) more information on Screen Education magazine,or to download other study guides for assessment,visit .Join ATOM’s email broadcast list for invitations tofree screenings, conferences, seminars, etc.Sign up now at .For hundreds of articles on Film as Text,Screen Literacy, Multiliteracy and Media Studies,visit .SCREEN EDUCATION16

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