The future at odds with the past: journey through the ruins of memory in Alkinos Tsillimodos's Tom White

Mules, Warwick (2011). The future at odds with the past: journey through the ruins of memory in Alkinos Tsillimodos's Tom White. In Amresh Sinha and Terence McSweeney (Ed.), Millennial cinema: memory in global film (pp. 139-155) New York, NY, United States: Columbia University Press.

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Author Mules, Warwick
Title of chapter The future at odds with the past: journey through the ruins of memory in Alkinos Tsillimodos's Tom White
Formatted title
The Future at Odds with the Past: Journey Through the Ruins of Memory in Alkinos Tsillimodos’s Tom White
Title of book Millennial cinema: memory in global film
Place of Publication New York, NY, United States
Publisher Columbia University Press
Publication Year 2011
Sub-type Research book chapter (original research)
Year available 2012
ISBN 9780231161923
Editor Amresh Sinha
Terence McSweeney
Chapter number 7
Start page 139
End page 155
Total pages 17
Total chapters 12
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
This article discusses the recent Australian film Tom White (Alkinos Tsilimodos, 2004) as an allegory that reflects on the condition of global, corporatised capital and the people whose lives are affected by it in modern advanced economies. Tom White tells the story of a white, middle class man’s mental break down through disillusionment with the aims of life under corporate capitalism, and his subsequent journey of self-discovery, told as a kind of morality play that prophesizes a future built out of the ruins of memory. In the allegorical mode, the film prefigures its future by showing us the trajectories that will and won’t be taken through a series of vignettes in which Tom, the film’s hero, is tested for his worthiness as a human being and his potential as a ‘new man.’ This requires a complete re-evaluation of the ground on which life, not just his life, but life in general is based – a forgetting that makes him live again, but in a new, affirmative way, rather than in the self-seeking mode of his past life. In showing us Tom’s journey, the film enacts a series of dialectical images, to use Walter Benjamin’s phrase, which crack open the smooth surface of corporate culture, exposing modern forms of capitalist production to the ruins that it leaves behind and upon which its projects are built. Memory in Tom White is not a theme but a mode of appearing inhabited by potential otherness. The non-resolvable dialectical structure of the narrative reveals a further level of filmic imagery in which the film gestures to its origin in silent film through the tableau scene. Tom White is thus a remembering of film’s own pastness – its embeddedness in earlier film technology which is both present and erased in the very gesture of the film image. In this article I explore this potential in Tom White (and by implication in all film) as film’s allegorical presentation of its own materiality.
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Created: Fri, 27 Apr 2012, 08:53:42 EST by Ms Stormy Wehi on behalf of School of Communication and Arts