Cinematic visions of Australian colonial authority in Captain Thunderbolt (1953), Robbery Under Arms (1957) and Eureka Stockade (1949)

Couzens, Andrew James (2016) Cinematic visions of Australian colonial authority in Captain Thunderbolt (1953), Robbery Under Arms (1957) and Eureka Stockade (1949). Studies in Australasian Cinema, 10 2: 237-249. doi:10.1080/17503175.2016.1170960


Author Couzens, Andrew James
Title Cinematic visions of Australian colonial authority in Captain Thunderbolt (1953), Robbery Under Arms (1957) and Eureka Stockade (1949)
Formatted title
Cinematic visions of Australian colonial authority in Captain Thunderbolt (1953), Robbery Under Arms (1957) and Eureka Stockade (1949)
Journal name Studies in Australasian Cinema   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1750-3183
1750-3175
Publication date 2016-06-07
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/17503175.2016.1170960
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 10
Issue 2
Start page 237
End page 249
Total pages 13
Place of publication Abingdon, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
Publisher Routledge
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Formatted abstract
This paper interrogates representations of colonial authority, in particular the police force, in three films with a colonial Australian setting that were produced following the Second World War by British or Australian producers: the local production Captain Thunderbolt (1953) directed by Cecil Holmes; Jack Lee’s British adaptation of Australian literary classic Robbery Under Arms (1957) and Harry Watt’s Eureka Stockade (1949), which was the British production company Ealing Studios’ second production in Australia. I argue that the three films reflect differing approaches to understanding Australian national identity through their representations of authority, ideologically influenced by left-wing politics, the global marketplace and British imperialism. Where Captain Thunderbolt treats the colonial police and government with the sardonic irony and distance of a resistant community, both Eureka Stockade and Robbery Under Arms reinforce and justify Australia’s colonial administration. By detailing the economic, political and social contexts that contributed to these films, I demonstrate how various interest groups appropriated notions of Australian character and history to suit their ideological goals in line with Richard White’s (1992) arguments in ‘Inventing Australia’. Turning to history and folklore, these interests – including the Australian government, British media conglomerate the Rank Organisation and various left-wing organisations – infused the past they evoked in these films with new meanings that suited their vision of the future.
Keyword Bushrangers
Ealing Studios
National identity
Post-war Australia
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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