eCite Digital Repository

Eating and Othering in Jonathan auf der Heide's Van Diemen's Land


Narraway, G, Eating and Othering in Jonathan auf der Heide's Van Diemen's Land, Senses of Cinema, 65, (December 2012) Article 6. ISSN 1443-4059 (2012) [Refereed Article]


Primarily based on convict Alexander Pearceís four confessions, Jonathan auf der Heideís 2009 feature film Van Diemenís Land is a retelling of the true story of the escape of eight convicts in 1822 from the isolated Macquarie Harbour Penal Station on Sarah Island in Tasmania (then Van Diemenís Land). Infamously, unable to sustain themselves in the wilderness, the men resort to eating one another until only one convict, Pearce, is left standing. The filmís structure is ultimately binary, split equally between the convictsí at times intimate and predominantly antagonistic relationships as they desperately head overland towards Hobart Town, and the sublime environment that both psychologically and pictorially consumes them. Although not technically "ecocinema" (2), Van Diemenís Land invites an ecocritical consideration of both nonhuman and human nature. In the first instance, a great deal of screen time is devoted exclusively to nonhuman nature in the film and its centrality to the narrative is signalled by the long take that opens the film: an extended travelling shot of the Tasmanian bush and the Gordon River which is then interposed at several points in the narrative. In the second instance, the film, as a tale about cannibalism, inevitably foregrounds the eating, desiring body. Moreover, Van Diemenís Land brings the nonhuman and human into interrelationship by constantly affiliating the two.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Creative Arts and Writing
Research Group:Screen and digital media
Research Field:Cinema studies
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in language, communication and culture
UTAS Author:Narraway, G (Dr Guinevere Narraway)
ID Code:90972
Year Published:2012
Deposited By:School of Humanities
Deposited On:2014-05-05
Last Modified:2014-05-05

Repository Staff Only: item control page