The synopsis reads, “SPEAR is a contemporary Aboriginal story, told through movement and dance, of a young man Djali (Hunter Page – Lochard) as he journeys through his community to understand what it means to be a man with ancient traditions in a modern world. Spanning from the outback of Australia to the gritty city streets of Sydney, SPEAR is a reflection of the continuing cultural connection of Indigenous people. SPEAR is an intimate journey with Stephen Page, one of Australia’s most celebrated artists, as he brings this modern day mythological story to the screen.”
The film begins quite cinematically, quite unlike a documentary. We see strong visuals, a song and a foreign setting. One marvels at the landscapes and the cinematography, while simultaneously getting used to the theatrical juxtaposition of imagery one after another. One attempts to understand the world, the characters, who is who? Now this is again quite unlike even a documentary in that there’s no narration. The first spoken work appears about 13:59 mins into the film, delivered by the protagonist Djali. We’re led swiftly and seamlessly through a series of dances which are so surreal and brilliantly choreographed that one is too captivated to think about anything else.
As viewers of contemporary entertainment, we have become quite used to having a narrative or a narration in documentary films which tell us and guide us through the events portrayed. This film does not do that. One does miss it sometimes, but perhaps ambiguity is more interesting in this case.
There’s a dark blue tinge throughout the film which gives it a consistent tone and adds to the illusion of a distant world. The cinematography is superb and production values are high, kudos to DOP Bonnie Elliot for capturing landscapes as well the dances. There are dark undertones to the story and all the elements including the cinematography, music, sound and dance add to the creation of the atmosphere. There are distinct colours used to portray certain imagery and a play on light and dark adds to it.
Cutting through all the darkness though is a beautiful, romantic dance sequence with the female love interest Djakapurra Munyarryun. She adds the feminine grace to the movement that makes the story complete in its range of emotions. The visual appeal of the colours stand out again.
The film has so many elements that mesmerise that one continues to linger in the world even after the end. Attempts to work out the different characters and what they mean, why they act in certain ways, the journey of the young man, and the metaphors presented. Similarities to our own lives, the spectacle of the dance against the landscape. It is a compliment to the director Stephen Page and the entire cast and crew that the film works so well as a whole. One almost feels the need to watch it again for a potentially richer experience.
I leave feeling glad and honoured to have been able to witness this world.
More about the film can be found here.