“The Beach” (2020) by Warwick Thornton

Alexandra Wyman “THE BEACH”(2020) produced and directed by Warwick Thornton (Australia)

“The Beach” (the TV SERIES) produced and directed by Warwick Thornton, has just concluded its premiere screening on SBS and NITV tonight…29 May 2020. This was the chance to see the six episodes in one long, glorious viewing. Thornton, is one of Australia’s leading film directors, famous for “Sweet Country”(2018), “Samson and Delilah”(2009).

For a break from the pressures of modern life, Thornton goes to the Dampier Peninsula in Western Australia for a few months living in a corrugated iron hut on a spectacular spot beside the Indian Ocean, under the awe-inspiring skies, with the Milky Way hanging overhead. He’s eating from the sea and mangroves and gifts of eggs from his three chickens. He’s well-equipped with tools, and cooking equipment,carefully chosen to create a certain harmonious “look” of the time of exploration and do-it-yourself rustic independence and, he has his chickens for company. It turns out that Warwick Thornton is a creative cook, and the culinary influences are decidedly South East Asian.

He shares his deepest personal memories while chatting with the chickens. Past regrets and an animal ghost from the past that still haunt him are revealed.

The D.O.P was Warwick’s son Dylan(River)Thornton, and the images are superb, and this is an occasion when use of drone photography was necessary to capture the vastness. Although of course, Warwick Thornton was there with a film crew, we see only him, alone with the glories of remote North Western Australia, plus the local birds, insects and fish! Months of footage have been beautifully edited to guide us through Warwick’s self exploration and the daily routine of his ‘retreat’.

I hope they plan to enter this film in festivals around the world, because it is compulsive viewing and gorgeous to behold. It is also highly entertaining with a few laugh out loud moments, and the almost three hour duration passed quickly and left me wanting more! The glorious visuals and the deft editing saw to that.

It seems to me that this ‘film’ has the potential to be a major international success, and will show international audiences the awesome Australian coastal wildnerness. It could possibly re-start tourism in remote Australia too, after we’ve all finished ‘self-isolating’ because of COVID-19, as Warwick Thornton was before us, for different reasons.

Note: If you didn’t watch the premiere tonight, you can find it in six episodes on SBS on Demand. If you love good cinema, please watch.
by Cynthia Webb

About cynephilia

Lifetime student of and devourer of international Cinema. Artist, teacher, traveller - especially to my "other home", Java, Indonesia. Features writer for 14 years, for The Jakarta Post, national English language daily newspaper. I was born in New Zealand, but lived in Queensland, Australia since 1970. My profound link with Indonesia began in 1983, when visiting Bali (then an island of arts and of inspiration for an artist), and then again in 1994 when a visit to Yogyakarta, Java, began a process of that town and it's warm people becoming another home and extended family for me. Yogyakarta is the Artistic capital of Indonesia, and so it was the place for me. In 2000 I became a regular contributor about the arts for The Jakarta Post, and cinema, my lifetime passion, later began to become my focus for writing. The advent of The Asia Pacific Screen Awards, (APSA) in South East Queensland, launched in 2007 gave me opportunities to meet some the great film-makers of Asia, and see their amazing work. APSA is a kind of "Oscars" for the Asia-Pacific Region.
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