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Movies are an inseparable entity in the society, and many societies are molded by the influence of movies, and vice versa. Cinema is a vehicle which transports culture, arts, emotions, social work messages, and even propaganda to various people[ CITATION Shi11 \l 1033 ].Even though times are changing, the influence of movies on people is historically greater than books and newspapers combined. As cinema is available to people at a substantial cost which is common to all, it serves as an entertainment across the society.
The onus of the success of any cinema lies with an entire team – the producer, the director, the writer, the actors, and the support staff. However, the impact of the movie is decided by the ability of the main artistes’ to act. The storyline often dwells on the characterization of the lead artistes’, both men and women. However, do the artiste’s play role that is relevant to the times? Is there discrimination within the artiste’s based on their gender? Do the roles played by the artistes’ reflect the societies’ reality status? These are some of the questions that will be answered in this essay.
In this essay, two Australian movies – Sunday Too Far Away (1975) and The Daughter (2015) are taken up for discussion. Both the films are of the genre drama. The concept and the societal issues embodied by the movies are analysed, and how different is the portrayal of the characters from the real time society at the time of the movie is reviewed. The social status of men and women during the times, the gender-defined roles they play and their representation in the respective movies are discussed. The influences of the gender difference of the lead artistes’ and its impact on the movie are also discussed.
Movie 1 – Sunday Too Far away
Sunday Too Far Away[ CITATION Sun75 \l 1033 ]wasreleased in 1975, and received highly positive reviews, as it showcased the problems of the working condition of labour class, which could be relatable by almost all strata of workers at that time. The movie captured the lifestyle of sheep shearers, highlighting their mundane routine, their competition within their sector, the occasional clashes with the labour unions, their relationship with their families, promiscuity, and their insensitivities, which would seem both relatable as well as different to a person working elsewhere. The stark difference between the status of men and women in the society those times is also portrayed succinctly. The movie depicts the characterization of both men and women subtly, yet strikingly.
One, from the point of view of men, it shows how their lives are set – competition, desires, lust, bondage, and violence. The protagonist, fights hard to retain his status of gun shearer in his factory amidst his peers, and thus ends up losing a lot in the process. The movie draws parallels between the lives of men and sheep; the men are treated no differently by their bosses than the way they treat their sheep. This can be seen via the visual edits, where both men and the sheep are not shown as a concrete entity, but as abstract components, showing random parts of both, seeming them insignificant to their masters. The men as the sole breadwinner of the families are shown to need to go through a lot of hellish working conditions in order to provide for themselves and their families. However, their neglect for the very families they go back home to, is not lost upon the audience.
Two, from the point of view of women, this movie is a sneak-peak into the lives of the men, whose work fascinates women. The protagonist, the station owner’s daughter, willingly requests to be a spectator to the men’s work of sheep shearing. However, her fascination turns into disgust when she finds that is not a glamorous job after all. The fact that the men are uncomfortable with her presence in the shearing station, and she is uncomfortable with the men’s work; and that both co-exist in the same room is highlighted. This is a striking visualization of the fact that despite stark differences of both men and women, they coexist in the society.
The women are portrayed to be both weak hearted as well as strong. Weak, when the female protagonist was characterized as being too uncomfortable to even viewing the rough work done by men, implying that hard work was a “man’s work”. However, their mental health strength and resilience can be seen by the iconic catchphrase of the movie – a line in the song “The Sheep Shearers wife Lament” – “Friday night too tired; Saturday night too drunk; Sunday, too far away”.This line summarizes the feelings of the family of the sheep shearers’, that after working the whole week, they are either too tired or drunk to spend time with the very families they actually work for.
Three, this movie also depicts the harsh treatment of the laborers by their employees; that they were considered merely a commodity, to be overworked, underpaid, and dehumanized. There is a recurrent reference to the workers as sheep. In a scene, the owner tells the staff to be careful not to castrate the sheep while shearing them; this is ironical to the fact that the families and love life of the men are completely not depicted in the movie. The depiction of both men and women accurately capture the sad state of affairs of a blue-collar worker of those times, who was no less than a slave to his company he worked for. A poignant observation can be made that the owners were more concerned about the family life of the sheep, than of the men who worked for them. This movie does a brilliant job in showcasing the lifestyle of the people of the 1970’s and before.
Movie 2 – The Daughter
The Daughter[ CITATION The15 \l 1033 ]was released in 2015, and received widely positive reviews from the audience, as it showcased the emotional baggage carried by every one in the form of secrets, and how life would move on no matter what. This movie was an adaptation of the Novel “The Wild Duck, and it clearly reflects how the mistakes of the past would come back to haunt the future. It represented the issues every individual would face in his lifetime and the many relationships which every person has that are strained due to many reasons.
One, from a man’s point of view, this movie is a story where elements such as promiscuity and alcoholism tend to both be seen with disgust and with indifference. The protagonist is a man who has recovered from a drinking spree, and his father is a man who has had a promiscuous relationship with his friend’s wife. However, when the former finds out of the incident, he feels the urge to spill the beans, not thinking of the consequences it would cause. The movie also focuses on the insecurities faced by a man. Upon hearing that his wife had a premarital affair with his friend’s father, the husband remains withdrawn and aloof from his family, demanding separation. However, the emotions re-appear when his daughter commits suicide as a sacrifice to him, upon his insensitive back-handed comment“Would she lay down her life for me?”The ending comment of one of the protagonist’s friends that he would get drunk again is another depiction of the fickle minded nature of Man.
Two, from a woman’s point of view, this movie is a story where all elements of a classic woman-stereotype are presented. The lead protagonist is detested by her husband when found out that she was not a virgin at the time of her marriage. However, she tends to be practical even when her husband wishes to separate, asking that without her assistance, how would he able to go about with his hobby. The emotions of a woman as a daughter are depicted beautifully as well. The daughter, who has a medical ailment, becomes the key for her father to re-unite with the family. At the wake of the monetary pension offer from her actual father, she loses the love of her foster-father, and commits suicide in order to win him back. This depicts the extent of love a woman can have for her father.
Three, the relationships between families and friends are depicted beautifully. The differences between two families despite the continuous connectivity between them is clear, as one family is willing to open the secrets of the past, and the other is not receptive to it as the former might have expected it to be. It reflects the current cultural climate of the society, where if a person treads into another person’s life where he is not needed to, he would cause much damage both to himself and to the other person. The limitation of inhibitions and rational thinking might have been due to the influence of his alcoholism.
This movie depicts a harsh truth of the society – a rich male can get away with whatever mistakes he has committed in the past, and even continue to commit mistakes, and will be let go by the society, whereas a female is questioned and rebuked for a situation that might not even be her choice. The woman is supposed to live to the stereotypical values and ideals the society frames for her, but a man is free to do whatever he likes, whether it be intentionally spilling out unwanted secrets, or getting wasted away by alcohol, or by having an illegal promiscuous relationship. This is true to the society even today, where even though women’s development rises in leaps and bounds, gender stereotypes are far from being broken, and this is succinctly depicted in the movie.
To Compare and Conclude
The movies “Sunday Too Far Away” and “The Daughter” focus on the society’s differential treatment of men and women in the society of the times they focus on. Both movies are dark, melancholic, and leave strong emotions in the minds of the viewers, and both leave messages that are actually bitter to digest. Both focus on men possessing “manly” virtues of physical strength, being free to sow one’s wild oats, abetting violence, etc; and women possessing “womanly” virtues such as virginity before marriage, mental strength, resilience, forgiveness, and sacrifice[ CITATION New15 \l 1033 ]. Even though both movies representsocieties nearly 40 years apart, there are many things that have remained unchanged, and one amongst them is the differential treatment of men and women by the society.
Sunday Too Far Away focuses on a man’s life in his workplace, and The Daughter focuses on a man’s life within the circle of family and friends. However, both movies focus on the man as a stronger sex who can get away with his mistakes, and the woman as the weaker sex who somehow has to atone for not subscribing to the social stereotypes[ CITATION Con131 \l 1033 ].However, a slight shift of sharing the workload was seen in “The Daughter”, where it is mentioned that the husband and wife jointly run the photography studio. This is the influence of the changing times, where the situation of both the husband and wife working is the reflection of the necessity than a luxury. If “Sunday Too Far Away” focused on the physical turmoil faced by man, and his indifference of the family faced by his women; “The Daughter” focuses on the emotional turmoil and free will faced by man, and the brunt of its unintentional consequences faced by the women.
Gender discrimination in movies is definitely real, and it has been the trend since long[ CITATION Lei10 \l 1033 ]. However, onemust keep in mind that movies are the lens through which the society is viewed, thus movies reflect and improve own profession the social scenario of the times. Times have definitely changed, and both genders are definitely perceived as equals in the society, and this change is evident in the movies. However, there are many aspects of gender discrimination against both men and women, such as hyper-masculinization and hyper-feminization, which needs to be addressed at the societal level, following which the change would be portrayed through cinema[ CITATION Scr15 \l 1033 ].
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