tales from outer suburbia

suburbia2by shaun tan

This anthology by Shaun Tan is a unique collection. The fifteen illustrated stories are packaged in a beautifully designed book. The stories are all very short pieces about strange or unusual events which occur in the outer suburbs, but each is different in visual style.

The Water Buffalo presents a conundrum with a few paragraphs facing an illustrated page.

Eric is more illustration than words, and mostly black and white sketches. The said Eric is a foreign exchange student small enough to sleep in a teacup in the pantry, which indeed he chooses to do. His hosts are very willing to please but don’t really understand their guest. However, they accept him as he comes, and find a pleasant surprise when he leaves.

Broken Toys presents a rather surreal character (even for this book) wandering the streets and apparently finding his way to a home.

In No Other Country

The green painted concrete out the front of the house, which at first seemed like a novel way to save money on lawn mowing, was now just plain depressing.

 And there was more to complain about from this family until a freak accident makes a hole in a wall which opens up

– an impossible room, somewhere between the others.

And what a difference this makes.

Shaun Tan has a beautiful website with more information about this book.


One Night the Moon

one-night-the-moon-original-soundtrackThis beautiful one hour feature film is a musical drama about a child who goes missing. It is Australian and has a rural 1930s setting, based on a true incident of that era. The crux of the story is that the child’s father will not allow any Aboriginal people on his land, including the experienced black tracker who the police have brought along as a matter of course.

It is not only the feature itself, starring Paul Kelly, Kelton Pell, Kaarin Fairfax and Ruby Hunter, which could be used as a supplementary text, but the soundtrack lyrics. In fact, the film begins with a scene which could be treated as a separate video clip, with Paul Kelly performing a song which forshadows the tragedy to come in the story.

Early on in the film the piece “This is My Land. This land is Me” is performed by the two male protagonists as they move in opposite directions on the land.

Filmed in the Flinder’s Ranges, One Night the Moon uses several cinematic techniques which accentuate the power of the landscape.

Watch for religious imagery in this film, including a Sunday church scene, then the farmer killing a lamb.

The writers are John Romeril and Rachel Perkins. Perkins is also the director of the film.

For more information see Senses of Cinema “This Land is Mine/ This Land is Me” : Reconciling Harmonies in
One Night the Moon
by Fiona Probyn and Catherine Simpson (updated 26/05/2010). You can also download clips from Australian Screen.