Greetings fellow cinephiles! For an Australian girl, I find that I don’t really watch that many Aussie movies, although after my ‘fair dinkum’ movie marathon, I have been pleasantly surprised.
Australian films ‘The Castle’ (1997) and ‘Any questions for Ben’ (2012) are completely different films produced by the same company. They offer viewers a thought provoking snapshot of Australian culture and character. I found both movies to be iconic in nature and they led me to ask the question… “Which movie best represents modern Australia?”
After much contemplation, and a cheese and vegemite sandwich, I came to the conclusion that ‘Any questions for Ben’ better represents modern Australia than ‘The Castle’. As the world advances, Australians have been growing with it and our values are developing to keep up with the rest of the world. As a result of movies such as ‘The Castle’, Australians can be often perceived as ‘uneducated bogans’. This of course isn’t true. In this day and age, it is very rare to meet people like Darryl Kerrigan. ‘The Castle’ has cleverly pieced together a plethora of Australian stereotypes, making it entertaining yet so exaggerated that it largely misrepresents the Australian character and culture today.
In saying this however, the core Australian values depicted in ‘The Castle’ are like legacies that have been passed down from generation to generation, those such as mateship, giving people a fair-go and generally having a relaxed attitude towards life. Both films have used Australian slang such as the term “location, location, location” when talking about housing. It is a perfect example of how slang is still used in everyday Australian life. These core Australian traits and values deem ‘The Castle’ to still be a relevant movie.
‘The Castle’ depicts a Melbourne family that is happily living their life next door to the Melbourne Airport. However, the government and airport authorities demand that the Kerrigan family leave their beloved home because of airport extensions. The family decide to fight for their right to stay in their home. ‘The Castle’ is rich with our famous Australian values such as ‘a fair-go’ for all and mateship through helping our neighbours. When Darryl found out his home was being taken away from him, he immediately went to check on all of his neighbours, the ones that could and couldn’t help themselves to get through this appalling situation. This movie contains beautiful scenic pictures of the Australian landscape, both 1990’s suburban and rural. It is a film that everyone should see, especially if you are Australian. Many reviews of the movie state “it is a hilarious movie that reminded me of my grandparents” (IMDB user reviews). There were several elements of the movie that I recognised in people I know, which made me laugh out loud J and smile knowingly. My Grandparents are hard working ‘battlers’ who value a ‘fair-go’ for all and appreciate even the smallest of things. These are some of the values that are expressed in ‘The Castle’.
‘Any questions for Ben’ is about a twenty-something year old named Ben who is an up-and-coming marketing guru, always changing jobs and relationship partners. One day he speaks at a careers event at his old school, which is also attended by Alex, an old classmate. This sparks a mutual attraction between the two, and Ben starts to question what he is doing with his life. He goes to those around him for guidance and support, although he realizes only he can control his own destiny. This highlights the Australian value of freedom of choice and mateship. This movie also contains lots of scenic pictures of modern Melbourne and some iconic Australian events such as the Melbourne Cup horse race and the Australian Open Tennis. The film has been described as “light, fun although missing the Australian essence shown in other films”. (IMDB user reviews) I thought the movie was accurate to modern Australia though it missed the quirky Australian humour other countries have come to know and love. It is still a brilliant movie that depicts how Australians have evolved and developed.
Let me just throw another banger on the barbie then I’ll explain why ‘Any questions for Ben’ better represents modern Australia than ‘The Castle’.
In the past Australians would have one house to live in, and one job to work at for the rest of their lives. This is the kind of Australia depicted in ‘The Castle’ where the Kerrigans’ had established their lives and were not looking for change. They valued security, hard work and persistence in setting themselves up for the future. In modern Australia attitudes to change are more flexible. Young Australian’s, such as yours truly, are estimated to change jobs at least seven times in a lifetime! Ben is open to change in his life as he questions his life path. He is valuing freedom of choice and risk taking in his search for happiness. Also, Australians in general are more educated than in the past, and have a deeper understanding of the ways of the world, largely opened up to them through media and technology. They are prioritising which values are important to keep up. It could be said that Australians are transforming into Americans. As a result of this, children grow up watching American television shows such as Seinfeld, Gossip Girl, Everybody loves Raymond and Friends. Kids are highly impressionable and act like their favourite character from their favourite show. More importantly they pick up on the values shown in these shows.
As a result of older movies such as ‘The Castle’ Australians are perceived as ‘uneducated bogans’. In television programs such as ‘The Simpsons’ Australians are shown as people who ride their kangaroos to work and are very gullible. This is doing harm to the image of modern Australia within the global community. While most Australians don’t take any offence to this depiction, because it is in the Australian nature to be able to laugh at ourselves, it is completely inaccurate. ‘The Castle’ stereotype is hard for many young Australians to relate to because they have not grown up in that environment. The hilarious one liners such as “tell him he’s dreamin” or “that is going straight to the pool room” is lost on youth today because they are growing up watching American television.
Hold on, I just need to remind my nephew to toss his candy wrapper into the trash can. …oh surprise, he understood that!
While many of the Australian stereotypes are inaccurate, the core values are still in our hearts because they have been passed down from generation to generation, and are practiced in everyday life. It isn’t a mystery why Australians are known as the friendliest people. We might be evolving and maturing, although the core Australian values such as always giving people a fair-go, being able to laugh at ourselves and being laid back have always been an extremely important aspect of our culture. Even in the film ‘Any questions for Ben’ Ben learns that those values are important. Similarly, it is important that ‘The Castle’ is a movie that is recognised world wide, because it of the rich values depicted and how the Australian past and has had a large contribution to what Australia is today.
While these films are quite different, both films express mateship. The oxford dictionary describes mateship as ‘companionship or friendship, especially between two men’. Both of the movies highlight this Australian quality. Darryl Kerrigan (The Castle) doesn’t just fight for the right to keep his house, he fights for all his neighbours. Even though Ben lives a life that is constantly changing, he keeps his friends close, and when he was questioning his life, he turned to his family and friends for support and guidance. This shows that Australians still value mateship. Pavlova anyone?
Both of these Australian masterpieces are definitely worth seeing. They are funny, light-hearted, well written and have extremely talented actors. ‘The Castle’ is a classic movie although it is still out-dated, while ‘Any questions for Ben’ is modern and relatable. I urge you all to go and watch these movies then contact me, because I want to know what you all think!