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Weewar and Footprints in the Sand Sound choices for the representation of Aboriginal cultures in fiction and documentary

Murray, L.ORCID: 0000-0002-2366-7460 (2007) Weewar and Footprints in the Sand Sound choices for the representation of Aboriginal cultures in fiction and documentary. In: Nordic Anthropological Film Association 27th Annual Conference in Visual Anthropology (2007), 14 - 16 June 2007, Trondheim, Norway


Sound in both fiction and non-fiction films is frequently manipulated for artistic effect. Sound effects, rerecorded dialogue, additional music are all used to enhance the experience. Few people would perhaps realise and point out what coul d be errors of authenticity in such films. What happens when the subject of the film is a people for whom the sound of the natural world is central to their notion of self and culture? What if the film stands as one of the few historical records of such a people?

This paper examines the ways in which sound was used in the making of two films centred on two Aboriginal groups of Western Australia. One is a historical drama based on the true story of the first Aboriginal man to be convicted for murder or another aboriginal man in Western Australia. The second is a documentary about a couple who lived entirely separate from the rest of civilisation for 40 years in the West Australi an desert and their subs equent tracking by a search party.

In both films the sound used was very close to being completely authentic – the language, atmospheres, birds, music, distinctive natural sounds etc – as they are immediately recognisable to the aboriginal people in the film and their communities. At the same time the films are not a slave to authenticity and both still use sound and music to enhance the drama or help tell the story.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Media, Communication and Culture
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