Critical Film Analysis on “The Last Wave”

In this lesson, you will examine the indigenous religious beliefs of Aboriginal Australians and the concept of the Dreamtime. You will write a critical film analysis utilizing the film The Last Wave (Peter Weir, 1977), which explores the increasingly strange interactions that occur between an Australian lawyer and his Aboriginal clients. Dreams, symbols, and visions build up evidence indicating a spiritual connection between the white lawyer and his Aboriginal clients. A portended cataclysmic disaster is exposed slowly, through the machinations of an urban murder trial, revealing aspects of sacred tribal law and ancestral prophecy.

KEY GOALS:
Describe Australian Aboriginal ideas of the Dreamtime.
Define problems in reconciling tribal law with modern systems of justice.
Identify the use of slow motion, time-lapse photography, and eerie sound effects to create a mystifying atmosphere of Aboriginal religion and prophecy.
Determine how purposeful discontinuity in film editing is used to contribute to the mystical experience of the Dreamtime.
Determine how the possibility for unknown or misunderstood forms of sacred knowledge affects viewers’ perspectives of religion.

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