Beneath Clouds

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BENEATH CLOUDS
Ivan Sen (2002)
NOTES

* Opening credits: Images of rolling clouds, vast and immense, threatening and powerful. * Two female, high school students dressed in uniform walk a barren landscape. The only colour and movement comes from the trucks that roar through. Isolated, Aboriginal community. * Walk past an indigenous man carrying a jerry can of petrol. Stereotypical image of addiction. Lena in a thick Australian accent: “Whadda dickhead.” Clear from this dialogue that her values are very different from the norm. * Close up of dead butterfly with crawling ants, camera switches to close up of Lena. Connection between the character and the butterfly is made – both are beautiful creatures but neither are able to flourish in such an environment. Trapped. Also points to the unforgiving landscape they inhabit. This reflective moment is interrupted by another passing truck. * Young boy approaches. Smoking, spitting and truanting (all symbols of rebellion, or rather conformity in this place), we learn that he is Lena’s younger brother, Lee. * Another truck passes – her gaze follows, sense that Lena will not stay long in this place. She will get out before she too becomes like the butterfly. * Friend pregnant, Lena: “You’re never gonna get out of this shit hole Tye, you know that don’t’cha.” She is neither shocked nor sympathetic. Her use of profane language confirms her attitude toward this place. * Teen motion for Tye to join him outside the service station and she leaves. Lena does not follow – this is indicative of the choices the girls will make for their lives. * Lena passes a young mother on her way home.

* Begins to rain – pathetic fallacy. Lena witnesses her brother being led away by the police. * The house: dilapidated and uncared for, reveals a family life of poverty and disadvantaged. * Enters house. Medium shot of mother at kitchen table, with long neck beer bottles surrounding her and in the background the dog racing plays on the television, suggesting a home environment that is polluted with addiction, alcoholism, unemployment and gambling. Mother shows no concern for her son’s recent departure. * Lena to Mother: “Look at you, you’re a fucking disgrace.” The spite in her tone is unmistakable.

Recognition that all life holds for her in this place is pregnancy, crime and addiction.

* In her room, symbolism and iconography reveals those things that have the most influence upon her. The tidiness of the space juxtaposes the chaos of the rest of the house. Crucifix on the wall, Shakespeare’s plays, photo album under her bed (a precious, treasured and hidden thing) contains a photo of a fair skinned man. Iconic postcard image of Sydney Harbour Bridge, and close up of the signature, “love Dad.” Understand her plan to depart as a result of these visuals alone. -------------------------------------------------

* Introduced to Vaughn. An angry, aboriginal teen imprisoned in a juvenile detention centre. Cutting trees with the other detainees, but his carving of a ‘V’ into its trunk indicates a more sensitive side. Despite claiming that he doesn’t care what happens to it, his behavior demonstrates a gentle side to his character. * Dressed in mandatory green tracksuit, Vaughn also wears a hood (the mirror image to Lena) and in this, appears more threatening than the others. Responds aggressively to another inmate, but there is the suggestion that there is something more to this youth that trouble and violence. * Extreme close up shot of his face behind bars. Emphasis of his confinement and entrapment. * Learns of his mother’s illness from his visiting, pregnant sister. Their exchange is cool and devoid of emotion. Declares no sympathy for his mother. Quote??? * In his cell: low angle shot of 2Pac poster (this is what he idolises), cannabis leaf in background of image, extreme close up of gun pendant on...
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