Reclaiming the wasteland: Samson and Delilah and the historical perception and construction of Indigenous knowledges in Australian cinema
Warwick Thornton’s 2009 film Samson and Delilah won the hearts of Australians as well as a bag of awards — and rightly so. It is a breathtaking film that, as review after review will tell you, is about the bravery, hopelessness, optimism and struggles of two Indigenous youths. In telling this story, the film extends, inverts and challenges notions of waste: wasted youths, wasted memory, wasted history, wasted opportunities, getting wasted and wasted voices. The narrative and the film as a cultural object raise questions about being discarded and “the inescapable fact that the experience of catastrophe in the past century can only be articulated from its remains, our history sifted from among these storied deposits.” (Neville and Villeneuve 2). The purpose of this paper is to examine reaction to the film, and where this reaction has positioned the film in Australian filmmaking history. In reading the reception of the film, I want to consider the film’s contribution to dialogical cultural representations by applying Marcia Langton’s idea of intersubjectivity.