The Apollo Temple at Delphi
A Southern Sydney Journal of History, Heritage and the Arts Volume 5, Number 3, August 2012 ISSN 1835-9817 (Print) ISSN 1835-9825 (Online) Price $7.00 (Aus)
Doryanthes Exec. Editor: Les Bursill OAM JP Doryanthes
The Gymea Lily (spec. Doryanthes excelsa) From Greek “dory”: a spear and “anthos”: a flower, referring to the spear-like flowering stems; excelsa: from Latin excelsus: elevated, high, referring to the tall flower spikes. Go to www.doryanthes.info
Chair: Garriock Duncan, BA(Hons) DipEd. Syd MA Macq GradDipEdStud NSW MEd DipLangStud Syd. Editor/Publisher and Secretary: Les Bursill, OAM, BA M.Litt UNE JP. Treasurer: Mary Jacobs, BEd Macq DipNat Nutr AustCollNaturalTherapies. Film Review Editor: Michael Cooke, BEc LaT GradDipEd BA Melb MB VU. Book Review Editor and Secretary: Adj. Prof. Edward Duyker, OAM, BA(Hons) LaT PhD Melb FAHA JP. Botanical Editor: Alan Fairley BA (Hons.
History) UNSW Committee Members: Sue Duyker, BEc BA(Asian Studies) ANU BSc(Arch.) B Arch Syd. Merle Kavanagh, DipFamHistStud SocAustGenealogists AssDipLocAppHist UNE. John Low, OAM. BA, DipEd. Syd DipLib CSU.
Index of Articles
1. All views expressed are those of the individual authors. 2. It is the Policy of this Journal that material published will meet the requirements of the Editorial Committee for content and style. 3. Appeals concerning non-publication will be considered. However decisions of the Editorial Committee will be final. 4. Please read the Notice to Contributors that can be found on the back page of the online edition at www.doryanthes.info for formatting instructions regarding submission of items.
Index of Articles
Editorial – Garriock Duncan
Scattered Seeds - Garriock Duncan
Gleanings – Sue Duyker
Graduation Address Sydney University May 2012 - Professor Edward Duyker OAM - 38
Lithuania-France-Australia: Migrant Destinies- Marc Finuad - 6 Urban Myth or Surfing History Pauline Curby - 17 Land of Opportunity Merle Kavanagh
Bush to Beach - Alana Bishop
2011 Film Reviews - Michael Cooke
Notice to Contributors
A Botanical View - Alan Fairley - 32 The articles published herein are copyright © and may not be reproduced without permission of the author.
ISSN 1835-9817 (Print) - ISSN 1835-9825 (Online) The publishers of this Journal known as “Doryanthes” are Leslie Bursill and Mary Jacobs trading as “Dharawal Publishers Inc. 2009” The business address of this publication is 10 Porter Road Engadine NSW, 2233. [email protected]
Editorial Wonderful news for “Doryanthes” John Low our highlands representative editor has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in the Queens Birthday Honours list this June. Congratulations from all the Doryanthes editorial team More great news for our readers. No articles on Jesus, Greeks vs. Persians, or quests for unknown lands. They may, of course, return some time in the future. Nonetheless, you have a choice with this issue: either no theme or multi-themed. In fact, there are only two articles with a related theme. The Shire’s has strong links with beach culture. This culture has acquired some recent notoriety with the screening of the universally panned The Shire on TEN (S Siagian, “Boobs and botox: is this life in the shire?”, The Leader, Thursday, July 19, 2012, pp. 4-6). Expect more when Puberty Blues screens shortly, also on TEN. Readers will find interesting Pauline Curby’s short piece on the first development of beach culture. Alana Bishop’s article looks at the transformation of the iconic figure, the bushman, into the surfer. We hear much about the impact technology has had, and continues to have, on the various print media. Ed Duyker’s address is a timely reminder of the timeless appeal of the printed word. Merle Kavanagh writes on the career of a member of Australia’s most notorious military unit, the NSW Corps. Alan Fairley provides another Botanical View on a survivor from the Age of the Dinosaurs. Interesting as Marika Low’s article on Easter Island was, I felt the record had to be kept straight. Hence, my short piece on the original navel of the world, Delphi. Instead of reviewing one film, Michael Cooke presents us with a review of film in 2011. Hopefully, your favourite film of 2011 was well reviewed by Michael. Mine was not. By the time this edition is published, Federal Parliament will have resumed sitting. One of the first tasks in this sitting will be to address, again, refugee policy, quaintly called border protection. I say quaintly because the refugees get no closer to Australia’s real border than Christmas Island. Let us hope this time for genuine compassion and no more confected moral outrage and an absence of the hypocrisy which so marred the last time this issue was debated. Hence, Marc Finaud’s article is our feature article. It describes a time when Australia was a much more generous nation and welcomed all those who fled tyranny, war and religion. Yes, a different time and different circumstances. The refugees then were called displaced people, i.e. displaced by war, and were of European stock and Christian faith, not Hindu Tamils from Sri Lanka nor Moslem Hazaras from Afghanistan. Yet, whether they came by ocean liner in the 1940’s, or leaking boat in 2012, both groups were united by a common bond – the realisation that Australia offered a safe haven and a country where their children could grow up without fear. Yes, the article is long but read it. Well worth effort. Garriock Duncan
Gleanings With Sue Duyker Who does my garden grow? 5.30pm Thursday 16 August 2012, The Maiden Theatre, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney Dr James Broadbent AM gives a talk on the people behind common plants we grow in our gardens, their discoverers or exporters, nurserymen, notables after whom they take their names. Extend your appreciation and enjoyment of plants and gardening by learning their back-stories. Dr Broadbent is an eminent cultural historian whose working life has been devoted to studying taste and society in colonial NSW. He has a special interest in colonial houses and gardens and wrote 'The Australian Colonial House' amongst many other publications. $40 full, $30 AGHS members and RBG Friends. Light refreshments served first and included in the cost. Bookings essential: call the Friends of Royal Botanic Gardens, 02 9231 8182 or email [email protected]
Kamisaka Sekka: dawn of modern Japanese design Until Sunday 26 August 2012 Art Gallery of NSW
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney Kamisaka Sekka (1866–1942) was one of Japan’s leading artists, designers and art instructors. His bold, visually dynamic designs and innovative approach to production made him one of the great visionaries of modern Japanese art and design. For the first time in Australia, see Sekka’s exquisite work alongside a range of innovative contemporary art, fashion and craft design from the artists he inspired. $10 adult, $8 concession, $7 member, $28 family www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au ‘Threads’ History Week 2012 Saturday 8 September–Sunday 16 Sptember 2012 Long before the fashionistas of today decided ‘the look’, dress was an important element of human expression. From status to style, culture to professional identity, clothes have defined us. History Week 2012 will explore the history of threads and unpick the meaning behind the wardrobes of the past. Check out the program at www.historycouncilnsw.org.au/history-week/ Rookwood Cemetery Open Day and Spring Fair Sunday 23 September 2012. Entry off Weeroona Road or East Street, Lidcombe Rookwood is the largest cemetery in the southern hemisphere and is regarded as the best surviving example of a Victorian gardenesque cemetery in the world. The open day offers diverse activities including: heritage tours of the Serpentine Canal; behind the scene tours at the Rookwood Gardens Crematorium; talks on old and modern embalming techniques; grave digging demonstrations; family history research; BBQ; refreshments; and white elephant and bric-abrac stalls. 9am–3pm Entry free (tours by gold coin donation). Phone Robyn Hawes 02 9889 3899 Twentieth Century Heritage Society Regional Tour of Mudgee 2012 Saturday 29 September–Monday 1 October 2012 (Labour Day long weekend) Talks, walks, dinners and drives in the company of those who appreciate the architectural and design heritage of the Twentieth Century. Enjoy guided heritage walks, lunches and a special "Heritage Dinner" with two guest speakers. Access private properties not normally open to the public. Enjoy the wonders of this great mid-western town.
Bookings essential www.twentieth.org.au/mudgee.html or call David on (02) 9878 2511. Accommodation (2 nights) is paid separately by you but so you won't miss out (it's a busy weekend in Mudgee) we've blocked book rooms at Parklands Resort just for our group. But be quick, accomodation is being snapped up and the rooms are going fast. Walk amongst the Union Banners Until October 2012 Lithgow State Mine Museum, State Mine Gully Road, Lithgow The Lithgow State Mine Museum is hosting a major exhibition of banners from the Sydney Trades Hall collection until October 2012. This is a rare opportunity to see these magnificent works on public display. Every weekend, public school holidays and public holidays, 12pm–4pm. Phone 6353 1513 Napoleon:Revolution to Empire Until Sunday 7 October 2012, National Gallery of Victoria, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne Napoleon: Revolution to Empire is a panoramic exhibition examining French art, culture and life from the 1770s to the 1820s. Its story runs from the first French voyages of discovery to Australia during the reign of Louis XV to the end of Napoleon's transforming leadership as first Emperor of France. Daily 10am–5pm, open to 9pm on Wednesdays. $26 adult, 22.50 concession, $10 child, $65 family, $21 NGV Member Adult, $50 NGV Member Family www.ngv.vic.gov.au/napoleon Game Masters Until Sunday 28 October 2012, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Federation Square, Melbourne Featuring 125+ playable games, Game Masters celebrates the world's most influential videogame designers. My 26 year old son and I spent three happy hours playing our favourite games and listening to designers talking about the concepts behind their creations. Across arcades, consoles, PC and mobile platforms, the exhibition showcases the work of over 30 game designers, from Nintendo's iconic character-led worlds featuring Mario and Link, to the immersive stealth combat of Hideo Kojima's METAL GEAR SOLID and the atmospheric narratives of Flower and Journey by thatgamecompany. Monday–Wednesday 10am–6pm, Thursday–Friday 10am–10pm, Saturday–Sunday 9.30am–6pm. $22 full, $17.50 concession, $16 ACMI member www.acmi.net.au/game-masters.aspx Garden of Ideas Until Friday 30 November 2012, Red Box Gallery, Royal Botanic Gardens, off Mrs Macquarie's Road, Sydney This national touring exhibition, organised by the Australian Garden History Society, showcases the vivid history of Australian garden design, over four centuries. This exhibition is a unique and valuable source of inspiration for the sophisticated gardener, budding gardener, historian, garden designer or garden-lover alike. Monday–Friday, 10am–4pm Free www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/welcome/feature_stories/The_Garden_of_Ideas The Etruscans: A Classical Fantasy Until 1 December 2012 Nicholson Museum, Quadrangle A14, The University of Sydney In popular imagination the Etruscans are the very stuff of fantasy, myth and legend. Who are they, where did they come from, what does their language mean? In reality, although wiped out or assimilated by Rome, they have left us an extraordinarily rich heritage of art, jewellery, metal working, terracotta sculpture, urban planning, walls and roads. Indeed, in the 6th century BC, the Etruscans were the most powerful people in the Mediterranean. So what went wrong? Nicholson Museum, Quadrangle A14, The University of Sydney. Monday to Friday 10am–4.30pm. Closed Sundays and Public holidays. Phone 9351 2812 or email [email protected]
/museums/ 50 Objects 50 Stories. Extraordinary Curiosities from the Nicholson Museum Until June 2013 Nicholson Museum, Quadrangle A14, The University of Sydney At 7.57pm, on 17th May ABC24, the first television episode in the series 'Extraordinary Curiosities' is going to air on ABCnews24. The ABC are in the process of filming curator Michael Turner talking with Anne-Maria Nicholson (no relation) about all of the 50 objects in both the forthcoming exhibition and the book '50 Objects 50 Stories. Extraordinary Curiosities from the Nicholson Museum'. Two of the stories will go to air each week through to November. Be ahead of the pack and see the real thing at the Nicholson. Free. Monday to Friday 10am–4.30pm. Closed Sundays and Public holidays. Phone 9351 2812 or email [email protected]
Lithuania-France-Australia: Migrant Destinies Marc Finaud1
Luda Popenhagen (nee Apinyté), born to Lithuanian immigrants, recently described the personal and collective fates of hundreds of people who were recruited by the Australian authorities to settle in this new land of opportunity after the disaster of World War II.2 Indeed, part of the Mass Migration Scheme (1947–1954), even the many Lithuanians who were qualified professionals (academics, artists, engineers, lawyers, medical doctors, nurses, etc.) as well as skilled workers, farmers and university students had no choice but to work as unskilled labourers at least for two years. They were hired to work hard in sugar-cane fields, construction grounds, factories, hotels, private homes or public hospitals throughout the country, often separated from their families. After contributing to the Australian economy as much needed labour force, they could go back to their qualified work and further participate in the economic, cultural, educational or social development of the country. At the same time, they retained a strong attachment to their original language, culture, religious practice, and vivid interest in the destiny of their nation oppressed by the Soviet dictatorship for half a century. Luda Popenhagen’s account is based on family and community group archives as well as individual interviews of people who, unconsciously and at times involuntarily played, an important role in the historical evolution of both their country of origin and their host country. In common with most other national groups in Australia, each story adds to the collective saga, enriches it, and forms a component of the common memory. Among the people who were part of this history are a Lithuanian man and woman. The man’s name was Romas Sazenis. The woman’s maiden name was Vlada Naruševičiuté. Let us begin by exploring the woman’s story.3 Vlada, nickednamed “Vladzunia”, also called “Wladyslawa” in Polish, was born in Lithuania, on June20, 1923, to a Lithuanian father with a Polish name (Stanislaw Naruszewicz or, in Lithuanian, Stanislovas Naruševičius) and to a Polish mother with a Lithuanian name (Marija Sudvauté). Having inherited both cultures and speaking both languages at home, Vlada was sixteen when World War II, broke out. The war would devastate her home country and Europe, and lead her to France after much suffering. Vlada’s Childhood in Lithuania Vlada grew up in an independent Lithuania, reborn after World War I, amid nostalgia for the glorious centuries when the Grand-Duchy of Lithuania, united with the Polish Crown, dominated Northern and Eastern Europe, from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Her Lithuania was much more modest: in spite of his aristocratic ancestry, related to the bishop-poet Adam Naruszewicz (17331786), her father, Stanislas, was a simple forest warden. She inherited his love for nature, which made her, much later, a true environmentalist before it became fashionable. In honour of Vlada’s first child’s birth, Stanislas planted a birch tree in the family yard. Her mother Marija, between her tasks in the fields and at home, raised four daughters: Vlada, the eldest, Stefanija (Stefka) and Jadviga, the middle ones, and Veronika, the youngest. Life went by smoothly in the little wooden house bordering the forest in the hamlet of Sudvajai, from which Marija’s maiden name, Sudvoje, comes. The few farms of this rural village were scattered along the scenic banks of the Niemen river (Nemunas), in the vicinity of Alytus, the main town of the region located 70 km from the then-capital city, Kaunas. Indeed, today’s capital, Vilnius, had been conquered and annexed by Poland in 1920, and was called Wilno, under the pretext that the city’s population was in majority Polish. This is why the Lithuanian nationalist authorities then prohibited the use of the Polish language by school children. For, it was the language of the enemy. Vlada 1
The author is a French diplomat who was Consul-General in Sydney in 2000-2004. He writes the story of his Lithuanian mother in his personal capacity. 2 Luda Popenhagen, Australian Lithuanians, UNSW Press, 2012. 3 Lithuanian speakers may also read: Rita Baltušytė (Sydney Correspondent), “Didžiosios diplomato svajonės ištakos – mamos sektos pasakos,” Lietuvos Rytas, 12 July 2004. 6
and her sisters, who almost naturally switched from the “mother” to the “father” tongue, often suffered physically from their schoolmates when they enforced the prohibition with their fists. The house was also, like in every family, home to the surviving grand-parent, in this case the maternal grandmother (mamaité or babunia in Polish). She would tell her grand-daughters many fairy tales from the old Slavic-Lithuanian mythology. Thus, much later, Vlada could repeat to her own children and grand-children the The four sisters (on top Veronika, on story about the fisherman and the golden fish, or the bottom, from left to right: Stefka, Vlada and Jadviga) near the birch tree in the yard in princess bored in her undersea palace. Mamaité could 1938 also read cards and taught this art to Vlada, who knew how to use it when needed. The grand-mother was familiar with all sorts of secret remedies and cures for any disease. Vlada benefited from the mustard plaster on a sore throat or the poppy seed brew to calm nervous children. Granny showed her grand-daughters how to recognize mushrooms and tell the good from the bad. On a summer day she pointed to a huge ant-hill at the foot of a high pine tree; she patted the top with her handkerchief, brushed off the running ants, and had each girl smell the handkerchief: the formic acid had a strong smell that unclogged their noses. Vlada long remembered that cure for colds and allergies. Close to the family house, on the edge of the dense pine woods, between two moss-covered rocks, a spring dispensed fresh water that mamaité considered miraculous: anyone who would rub its eyes with it would be protected from any eye disease for their lifetime. Vlada learned a lot not only from her grand-mother but also from her mother. As any woman in the Polish-Lithuanian countryside, she was accustomed to a harsh life. Married at the age of sixteen, she had to perform all the farming tasks simultaneously. When Vlada had reached the age of helping her to raise her sisters, cook, sew, take care of the vegetable garden or feed the cattle, her mother, as a perfectionist did not tolerate amateur work, and carried out the activity herself. As an adult, Vlada often complained that her training in home and farm duties had been interrupted. On Sunday, all the village dwellers gathered at church in Alytus to feel united in their Catholic faith. However Vlada had learned at school that Lithuania had been the last European country to become Christian! This dated back to 1386 and the baptism of Grand-Duke Jagellon, who had married Queen Jadwiga of Poland and accessed the Polish throne. This was the beginning of the dynastic union which later vanquished the Teutonic Knights and dominated a large part of Europe. Of all the religious holidays celebrated in a joyous atmosphere –and many of which had a pagan origin–, Vlada’s favourite was the blessing of the palms (Verbø Sekmadienis) on Palm Sunday. With the help of their grand-mother and mother, the girls of the family, as in any home, prepared for it a long time ahead. As soon Vlada’s parents, Marija and as spring appeared, they would cut willow or hazel tree branches with Stanislas, just before the War early buds and decorate them with dried or dyed flowers or wheat ears, carefully preserved throughout the winter. They would add green juniper twigs or fern leaves, and tie them with coloured ribbons or wool threads in symmetrical shapes. During the ceremony, the faithful brandished the multicoloured palms, each being convinced that their own would attract more of God’s attention. According to old sayings, if one had forgotten their palm, in its stead the devil would stick his forked tail in the person’s hands. Back from the church, the palms were hanged on doors or in windows to scare bad spirits off, or they were placed behind pious images. Before letting the cattle out when spring allowed it, the ashes of burning palms were sprinkled on them. 7
The pace of life in the village followed that of the seasons, and was also affected by the slow flow of the Niemen river. Almost at the same time as they started walking, children learned how to swim in the river. Teenagers would occasionally challenge each other to swim across the river and resist the cold water, the currents and the distances. Vlada did swim back and forth The Niemen River in summertime (photo: Tautvydas Gylys) several times, and remained throughout her life a good swimmer. On one summer’s day, she sought relief from the hot weather in the river with her sisters, and since the place was deserted, they were naked. A lone man showed up from the woods and, after watching the girls, he removed all their clothes. They had to cut some branches to cover themselves, and ran home through the village, chased by the villagers’ laughter. Winter would put the village to sleep. Everyday life slowed down. The cold winds sweeping the Baltic plains piled up snow which often blocked roads and paths. However, when a family had decided that a son or a daughter would get married, they invited neighbours from the whole area. Nothing stopped the sledges drawn by horses excited by the cold. The feast would last three days. At night, guests would sleep on hay in the cattle-heated barns. On the large table all sorts of pork products, the most common food for peasants, were offered, both to the poorest and the richest. Vodka would flow generously, since wine was unknown. For dessert, children and adults would savour to the last morsel the traditional wedding cake (šakotis), baked on a spit by the fireplace with dozens of eggs. The cold and snow did not scare children. Having been bundled in warm clothes by their mothers, they would not hesitate to venture outside into the woods. They knew that they were not supposed to enter the forest because of the wolves living there. Yet, for instance, they would play along the railway line, which linked Alytus to the rest of the world. In spite of warnings by her mother and grand-mother, Vlada dared, one day, when the temperature was down to minus 20 degrees Celsius, to lick the rail and got her tongue stuck to it by the frost. Alerted by her other daughters, Marija came to Vlada’s rescue with a teapot full of boiling water. Vlada swore to herself that she would never try that experiment again ever. The snow did not prevent children from going to school either, walking or riding the sledge driven by their father. Usually classes were held only in the morning, so as to allow children to go home before dark. In summertime, this free afternoon was spent helping parents in the fields or at the farm, but also to practice sports. Apart from swimming in the Niemen river, basket-ball had become popular from when Canadians of Lithuanian background had imported it into the country. In a few years, national Lithuanian men’s and women’s teams had won the European championships (the Soviet Union benefited from that expertise later). The smallest school had its club and organised tournaments. Vlada took part in them with enthusiasm. Vlada never considered her studies a chore. She was always ahead of her class, starting primary school able to read. Reading was ever a passion for her. Thanks to the well-equipped city library in Alytus, she discovered all sorts of literature: from the adventures of doctor Dolittle, translated from English, to the famous French authors. She read all Alexandre Dumas (whose Count of Monte Cristo she loved), Victor Hugo or Balzac. She also liked the Russian or Polish classic writers. Among those was the romantic poet Adam Mickiewicz, claimed as a national author by Poland although he was born in Lithuania, whose landscapes he celebrated and which he considered as his motherland. The family house was lit with petrol lamps. When everyone was asleep, Vlada refused to give up reading and sat by the window to catch the last moon rays. While at the Alytus high school, 1932 to 1940, Vlada began to learn German and French. She thus added those languages to her native Lithuanian and Polish, but also to Russian, twhich everyone around her understood not only because of the Slavic origin common with Polish but also because of the historical and geographical proximity with the big neighbour. This knowledge of languages 8
turned out to be quite helpful in her later life. French fascinated her more especially. She was not turned away by its difficulty, even if her teacher used to say that the French wrote Constantinople but pronounced it Honolulu. It remained the language of a country she dreamed of and thanks to which she could access a cultural heritage. She listened with religious attention to her History teacher who depicted Napoleon’s heroism in the conquest of Russia as well as the assistance brought to him by the Polish-Lithuanian officers during the Russian campaign. This was mostly after the 1812 restoration by the French Emperor of the Lithuanian Provisional Government, its first rebirth since the partition of the country in 1795 between Russia, Austria and Prussia. The Arrival of the War Vlada only knew about war in history books. She would experience it for herself. While she was finishing her penultimate year of high school, and was still uninformed as were most of her countrymen and the world, two ruthless dictators were plotting to crush her country again. Already in March 1939, Hitler had forced Lithuania to return to the German Reich the area and the port of Klaipėda (Memel) on the Vlada (under arrow) at the Alytus high school in 1936 Baltic Sea, because of its German population. On August 23, he concluded the s infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Stalin, officially a nonaggression treaty, but with secret clauses stipulating, among others, the sharing of Poland and respective influence zones. In the first draft, Lithuania was included in the German sphere. After Germany attacked Poland on September 1, 1939, followed by the Soviet Union on 1September 17,, the USSR obtained, as compensation for Polish territories occupied by Germany, that Lithuania be finally incorporated, as the two other Baltic countries, Latvia and Estonia, into the Soviet sphere. On October 10, Stalin imposed on the Lithuanian government a Treaty of Mutual Assistance providing for the stationing of Soviet forces on the Lithuanian territory in exchange for Soviet guarantees of the defence of its integrity against any aggression as well as the return of Vilnius to Lithuania. The former capital city had indeed been militarily reconquered by Lithuania during the German offensive on Poland. Among the bases where Soviet troops would be stationed was Alytus. Lithuanian President Antanas Smetona, who had come back to power in 1926 thanks to a coup d’état, had put in place an authoritarian régime, which had allowed him to be re-elected in 1931 and 1938. The Communist Party, the main opposition force, was banned. With the support of Moscow, it organised demonstrations. On June 15, 1940, Stalin delivered an ultimatum on the pretext of the alleged kidnapping of Soviet soldiers, accusing Lithuania of violating Treaty of Mutual Assistance; he demanded that a new government, less hostile to Moscow, be appointed. Although the Lithuanian authorities accepted, he ordered 150,000 Soviet troops to take the control of the country. Rapidly, the Communists organised rigged elections by eliminating their opponents, and took over Parliament. One of their first decisions, on July 21, was to request that Lithuania be incorporated into the USSR. This was done on August 3, less than a year after the sinister Pact was signed. The two other Baltic republics, Latvia and Estonia, followed the same destiny. Of course, Lithuania had recovered its historical capital, Vilnius. However, at what price? Forced and brutal Sovietization of the country pushed many Lithuanian people to flee to the West (starting with President Smetona himself). The Soviets also organised mass deportations to Siberia, and thousands of political prisoners were killed. In Vlada’s family village, as everywhere else, the population saw Soviet soldiers, exhausted and starving, loot farms and houses, confiscate the cattle and often rape women. Vlada’s father, having lost to the Soviets the family’s meagre sources of revenue, went fishing everyday in the river to feed his wife and children. The Alytus church was closed down and the mayor replaced with an apparachik. Young people from the region joined the groups of partisans hiding in the forest. The Soviets began to apply their programme of confiscation and collectivization of the land, whose owners, like the intelligentsia, 9
were sent to the Gulag. This is when Hitler broke the Pact with Stalin and launched his army against the Soviet Union, on June 22. 1941, two days after Vlada’s eighteenth birthday. Although German forces replaced the Soviets overnight, Lithuania clinged to the hope of her restored independence for a few months. The nationalist government was indeed reinstated, but it was rapidly overwhelmed, and Lithuania became a province of the Reichskommissariat Ostland. The Story of Romas Sazenis4
The story of Romas Sazenis illustrates well how thousands of Lithuanian families found themselves torn apart between the Soviet rock and the German hard place. Romas and Vlada’s families had known each other for a long time: they often spent part of the summer together, sharing their time between field activities and swimming in the Niemen river between Kaunas and Druskininkai. Vlada and Romas were friends but never became more to each other. Vlada also befriended Romas’ brother, Jurgis, and their twin cousins, Nata and Aldona Ciudiskis. Romas’ father, presumably a Communist, had left home shortly after the boy’s birth in 1924 and taken refuge in Leningrad. Romas, at the age of 15, had built himself a wooden hut by the forest, where he lived with his mother, brother, grand-mother and grand-aunt. In 1939, when war broke out, he enlisted in the Lithuanian army, hoping to be able to defend his country. He was only 17 and had lied in order to be admitted. When the USSR annexed Lithuania in 1940, he was forced to continue serving in the Red Army. When, one year later, the Germans took over the country, he deserted. He went to hide in the forest but was soon arrested by the Gestapo. He was forcefully reintegrated in the Lithuanian auxiliary units that the Nazis had established to fight the Soviet enemy. In July, 1944, when the German army began to retreat because of the Soviet counteroffensive, he was evacuated to Lübeck, the German port on the Baltic sea. This is where, when war was over, he met another Lithuanian woman, Marija Masanauskaité, who was searching her own brother, Jonas Masanauskas. Vlada’s Arrest and Deportation After she graduated from Alytus high school in 1940, Vlada was admitted to the Kaunas Teaching School to become a schoolteacher. After one year’s training she was already considered capable of teaching, and she was sent to the village of Gudakiemis near Merkine, south of Alytus, on the banks of the Niemen River. On her classroom benches, children of all ages would sitting, and Vlada had to adapt her teaching to the degree of their knowledge. Teachers Vlada and Romas with his brother Jurgis (centre) and their cousins in 1939 could only use the Lithuanian language and were not allowed one single criticism about the German occupation. Aware of the terror imposed by the Nazis, who threatened not only guilty teachers but also innocent children with the harshest form of retaliation, most teachers behaved cautiously. Soon after the Soviet invasion, groups of resistance fighters had been organised, some initially under the leadership of the Lithuanian Ambassador in Berlin. The anti-Russian uprising triggered by the German offensive inflated their ranks. Thus the underground was able to take over all the key sites evacuated by the Soviets in Kaunas, and the Wehrmacht could take control of them without firing a single shot. However, many resistance fighters felt betrayed by the Nazis and rapidly joined the groups of partisans who were fighting against the German occupiers. Even in isolated villages such as Vlada’s, people heard the news about the massacres and the bloodshed in the country. Vlada’s family itself had fled from the village soon after the invasion. They had lived in hiding for several weeks in the forest, and then carefully walked back to the village, discovering the family house looted and devastated. 4
The author wishes to thank John Masanauskas, the nephew of Romas Sazenis, for collecting this information from his aunt, Marija Sazeniené.
The Soviet troops fleeing from the German offensive had summarily executed hundreds of political prisoners and civilians. Later, Soviet partisans came back, with Ukrainians and Belorussians, to fight for the return of Lithuania into the Soviet Union. The nationalist Polish Army (Armija Krajowa) was also fighting in the area of Vilnius to recover the city, and did not hesitate to attack civilians. Some Lithuanians also enlisted in the auxiliary forces established by the Nazis and took part in the pogroms against the Jews from Kaunas and Vilnius, Vlada in Kaunas in 1943 known in the Diaspora as the Jerusalem of the North. During the war, the 200,000 Lithuanian Jews were sent to death, on the spot or in the camps. Other Lithuanians, unfortunately less numerous, had rescued Jews from extermination and became recognized later as Righteous. After teaching for a year, Vlada decided to start studying again. She had acquired a good knowledge of German, which was useful in everyday life and which she hoped to put to use later. This is why she registered in 1942 at the University of Vilnius to major in German. As minor studies, she continued to learn French and Russian. Students were grateful to their former Minister of Education, who had managed until them to preserve higher education from Nazification. They felt encouraged to conduct some resistance activities. It was out of the question to launch military operations actions against occupation forces: leaders of resistance groups prohibited this in order to avoid giving any advantage to the former Soviet occupier. Their main contribution to the national struggle consisted in writing, printing and circulating underground publications. The underground press played an irreplaceable role to unify national resistance. It spread vital information, bypassing the censorship that controlled all the country’s newspapers. Those homemade sheets gave many Lithuanians the chance to dodge the Nazi attempts to mobilise youth to serve in German Army units sent to the Eastern front or work arms factories in the West. Later, this experience was useful to Lithuania in its resistance against the second Soviet occupation. Vlada’s schoolmates typed and printed underground newspapers on presses hidden in dark cellars, carried the publications in their satchels, and spent nights sliding them under doors or into mailboxes, riding their bicycles in the shadows. In spite of their enthusiasm and determination, the young resistance fighters did not take any chances. They knew the occupiers' brutality, and tried to avoid at any cost an arrest which could have led to torture, jailing or execution. Above all they feared to be forced to betray their network and weaken countrywide resistance. As soon as early 1943, after the defeat of Stalingrad, German losses on the Eastern front brought the Nazis to redouble their efforts in the Baltic countries, including Lithuania, to recruit young soldiers and forced labour for the war industry. The Gestapo and the SS began mass arrests for that purpose, in particular in and around higher education institutions, which were closed down. In Kaunas, thanks to a family friend, Mrs Pazeniené, who was her landlady, Vlada had found a job as a translator of German in order to pay for her studies and expenses. Indeed, her father's meagre resources hardly sufficed to feed the rest of the family. She heard every day more news about Nazi mass arrests, but also on the progress made by the Soviet troops and the brutal treatment reserved by the Red Army for those it considered as traitors and collaborators. It was well known that, when the Soviet forces retreated in June 1941, several thousand Soviet soldiers had been killed by the Lithuanian partisans. Ferocious reprisals were expected against Lithuania in case the Soviets returned. At the end of 1943, the Red Army was about to recover Kiev and Smolensk, and in January 1944 it would cross the 1939 Polish border.
Fearing to be arrested or even executed by the Soviets for having helped the Nazi occupier in translating its legislation into Lithuanian, Vlada decided in early April, 1943, to flee to the German Reich. Perhaps she hoped to escape from there and reach a free country. She never explained her decision and no one will ever know. She left her job and, with the help of a German officer, headed for East Prussia, south-west of Lithuania, on his motorcycle. That province of the Reich was comprised the territories between Memel (Klaipeda) and Danzig (Gdańsk) with Königsberg in the middle. Her hope was that, thanks to her knowledge of German, she could easily merge with the local population and remain unnoticed. As soon as she arrived, she sent a photo to her parents to reassure them. This hope rapidly vanished. On April 25, 1943, Vlada was arrested by the Gestapo on the suspicion of being a member of the resistance, because she could speak so many languages. She tried to protest, during the long interrogation sessions, that she always abided by the law of the German occupiers and never conducted any political activities, but in vain. She was thrown into a military truck together with other women and sent to a forced labour camp in Pomerania, on the island of Usedom (Uznam in Polish). The camp was close to Peenemünde, where Nazi engineer Wernher von Braun had his famous V1 and V2 missiles built by thousands of forced labourers, and to Swinemünde, where a naval base was operating. Several camps spread over the island were used to provide workforce for those installations and the nearby armament factories.
Vlada in Usedom (Germany) in April 1943
In early morning, the Zwangarbeitern (i.e. the forced labourers, mainly young women) would wait in the cold or rain for the roll call, and then walked to the factory, escorted by the SS and their dogs. In the summer of 1943, Vlada heard that, until then, many Jews were among the forced labour force, but that, after their transfer to the death camps, the Nazis had decided to replace them with non-Jewish workers from the occupied territories. In the factory, only guards and foremen were German, and only spoke their language. On several occasions, Vlada felt happy that she could understand their orders and translate them for her workmates in Lithuanian, Polish or Russian. The food ration of the inmates was hardly sufficient to stay alive under the working condition. Under Vlada's eyes, many of her comrades died of malnutrition or typhus; others were executed for sabotage or for attempted evasion. Some women went as far as cutting off fingers in the hope of being sent back home. Few were spared. In August, 1943, the Allies had began bombing the construction and launching sites of the V1 and V2 rockets, named by the Nazis "weapons of vengeance", which spread terror in London. The Allied bombings led the Nazis to transfer some installations to underground sites in Central Germany and Poland. The Allies their raids on East Prussia in 1944, attempting to destroy the armaments factories to weaken the German war machine. The forced labourers were obliged to dig pits and galleries to bury the production facilities. Several parts of the camp where Vlada was working were destroyed by Allied bombs, causing many casualties among the inmates. In the camp, Vlada heard about the Normandie-Niemen air squadron, established in 1942 by French pilots sent by General De Gaulle to bring assistance to the Soviet Air Force. It was in July, 1944, that the group received from Stalin the name of the Niemen River, after crossing it and contributing to the German defeat in Lithuania. Among the pilots was Roger Sauvage, a Frenchman from the West Indian island of Martinique, whose dark skin surprised many Russians or Lithuanians. Vlada heard about this much later from her own relatives, Sauvage fell in love with a young Lithuanian woman from the Alytus area during his stay with the squadron. From this love story a child was born, a mixed-coloured girl who always was conspicuous within a clear-skin population.
Apart from the Allied threat from the air, the Nazis were facing the growing advance of the Soviet forces, which spread terror among the German military and civilians while boosting hope among the inmates, already enthused by the news of the Allied landing in Normandy in June, 1944. The name of a Russian general, Piotr Bagration, killed during the battle of Borodino in 1812 by Napoleon's army, was given to this unprecedented military operation. In July, 1944, the Red Army returned to Lithuania and in the autumn of 1944, the three Baltic countries were reintegrated into the Soviet Union. The Baltic plains were used in October 1944 as a springboard by the Soviet forces under the command of general Bagramyan for their blitz offensive, combined with The pilots from the Normandie-Niemen air squadron fighting with the Soviets that of the divisions led by Chernyakhovsky and Rokossovksy, which rolled into Poland and East Prussia. However, the resistance of the German forces and the exhaustion of the Red Army delayed the final offensive to January, 1945. Then the Soviet forces encircled the German troops, before reaching Danzig in March and Königsberg in April, 1945, which opened to them the road to Berlin. Vlada's labour camp was thus liberated by the Red Army. Despite the joy of deliverance, the inmates, especially the women, feared contact with the Russian soldiers, whose reputation as rapists and looters had already spread like wildfire. A young Russian officer by the name of Alexandre Solzhenitsyn, while fighting in East Prussia, had, in a private letter, criticised the Soviet commanders' complacency towards this barbarian behaviour; this reaction led him to be sentenced to eight years of detention in a labour camp in Siberia for his "attitude favourable to the enemy". As for Wernher von Braun, he had preferred to surrender to the Americans rather than to risk his life in the hands of the Soviets. A few years later he became a US citizen and the father of the American space programme. The Convoy to France Because she could speak Russian, Vlada avoided the worst for herself, but could not rescue many of her comrades. Above all, she was gratified by the luck of her life. She helped a team from the International Red Cross which was inspecting a camp for prisoners of war camp nearby, and came to supervise the evacuation of the labour camp. Among the liberated prisoners of war, she met a French pilot. She was happy to speak the language that she had learnt but had no opportunity to practice. The pilot advised her to follow him in a convoy of the Red Cross. Like several other inmates from the Baltic countries, who feared to be repatriated to the Soviet Union, she claimed to be the French pilot’s fiancée, and put herself under the protection of the Red Cross, stating that she was born in Wilno, which was Polish at that time. As a consequence, she claimed herself Polish citizenship. Indeed, the rumour was already spreading that, in accordance with the accords signed in Yalta by the Allies, the citizens of the Soviet Union were automatically repatriated thereto, whether they agreed to it or not. The information about the mass persecution and deportation of Balts, accused by the Soviets of being collaborators, “kulaks” (rich farmers), or capitalists, had also reached East Prussia. Such deportation continued for a long time after the war. Indeed, in as late as 1951, Vlada's sister, Veronika, married to a farmer who had inherited 28 hectares of land, was arrested, while all the family assets were confiscated. A convoy took her away to Siberia with her husband, their son aged two and a half, and their daugher Rita, aged three months. Her sister Stefanija, having heard the news, rushed after the convoy, and shouted to the Soviet soldiers that they were taking her own daughter by mistake. She thus could rescue her from the Gulag, and gave her to her own mother, Rita's grand-mother, to raise her. Vlada heard it much later when, thanks to the "thaw" promoted by Khrushchev, her sister and brother-inlaw were released and repatriated to Lithuania, discovering that their daughter now aged seven 13
never wanted to join them and stayed with her grand-mother. As for the partisans who were continuing the armed struggle against the Soviet occupation, they were definitively neutralized by the KGB and the Red Army only in 1953. Vlada remembered that, in her family, there was mention, before the war, of a cousin from the maternal branch (thus of Polish descent), whose parents had emigrated to Great Britain at the beginning of the century, and was old enough to serve in the British Army. Vlada asked the Red Cross to help her locate him before she could join him in Europe. The French pilot provided her with yet an additional pretext. She was told that the best way to find out was to go to Paris, where the Allied forces probably had useful information about this cousin. For that purpose, the Red Cross offered to put her aboard a sea convoy repatriating former allied prisoners of war from Odessa in Ukraine. Indeed, the Allies had agreed in Yalta to use that point of transit in the East rather than the shorther route through Germany, still affected by combat operations and where most of the infrastructure had been destroyed. Then a long march towards freedom and her destiny began for Vlada. Weakened by two years of malnutrition and forced labour, she was taken in a sanitary convoy to Berlin, where Nazi Germany had capitulated on May 8, 1945. She walked with the other members of the convoy through the smoking ruins of the former capital of the defeated Reich. She still could see some corpses of civilians and soldiers laying on the ground, and old women wondering and searching for some pittance. With the other refugees, she spent a few days in a camp for "displaced persons", where she could hear all the languages of the world spoken. Then, together with other refugees escorted by Allied soldiers, she took a train which reached Odessa in three days. During a stop in the town of Lutsk in Western Ukraine (once under Lithuanian and then Polish sovereignty), she wrote a postcard to her parents, with the same certainty of its delivery as if she had sent a message in a bottle at sea. However, the message did reach her family, reassuring them about her fate, without allowing any communication with her. In the Ukrainian port of the Black Sea, there was a surrealistic atmosphere. Crowds were converging there from everywhere, controlled by Soviet soldiers. Allied representatives were trying to obtain information from former prisoners of war of their nationality whom they were attempting to locate and send to Italy, France, or England. German prisoners of war were escorted by the Soviets to detention camps where many of them would end their lives. Ukrainian and Russian civilians were soliciting foreigners for money or some menial work. Odessa had been liberated by the Red Army almost a year ago, but misery was everywhere. When she saw the spectacular staircase linking the historical centre of Odessa to the harbour, Vlada remembered several scenes from Eisenstein's film, The Battleship Potemkin, which she had seen at her university movie club. The voyage, on an old cargo ship turned into a floating hospital, was long and painful, despite the care given by the Red Cross nurses and the food rations provided by the International Organisation for Refugees (IOR). Vlada’s only experience in sailing until then was crossing the quiet Niemen River on a row boat when her father took her to school in Alytus. She spent most of the voyage lying on her berth, trying to forget about her sea sickness. She did not even go out on the deck to watch the banks of the Bosphorus or the minarets of Istanbul. Eventually, after a week she though would never end, she stood on deck to watch the arrival in Marseille. Suddenly memories of her readings of Alexandre Dumas came to her mind, with the Château d’If fortress where the Count of Monte Cristo had been a prisoner. She realized that she had been one, too. As a young adolescent, Vlada had never imagined that her destiny would lead her to that mythical place. She did not know either that, by an amazing coincidence, her distant ancestor, poet Adam Naruszewicz had translated from French into Polish a poem attributed to Voltaire (but in fact written by the Perpetual Secretary of the Marseille Academy, a Monsieur de Saint-Didier), and entitled The Marseillais and the Lion… On that very ship or on a similar one, the father of Edward Duyker, an editor of this journal, made the same voyage.
Dazzled by the southern light and the whiteness of the rocky hills surrounding the harbour, as if the Mediterranean sea was a jewel box, she turned her eyes to the highest point of the city: the Byzantine tower of the Our-Lady-of- the-Guard church, topped with the golden statue of the Holy Virgin. She burst into tears in saying a thanksgiving prayer, as generations of sailors rescued from storms or mothers grateful for their children’s cure had done before her. The entrance of the Old Harbour of Marseille, in 1945, was slowly recovering from the war, Marseille in 1945 one year after its liberation. The harbour was swarming with mixed crowds of refugees, former prisoners or demobilized soldiers. Other French soldiers were preparing already to board ships to Indochina for a new war. The city had paid a high price for the Occupation. The neighbourhoods surrounding the Old Harbour had been blown up by the Nazis and the Vichy régime, under the pretext that they sheltered resistance fighters and communists. What was left of the aerial transfer bridge across the Old Harbour, also destroyed by the Germans, was only a pile of rusting metal. Outside the centre of the town, a Swiss architect named Le Corbusier was about to start a revolutionary housing project later nicknamed as “the fool’s house”.
Even if she was surprised every minute, having never lived in a big city, Vlada immediately felt comfortable in this new environment under the dazzling sunshine. She loved the joviality of those French people speaking their language with a singing accent, pronouncing all syllables and thus facilitating her understanding. After a few days, she was no longer astonished at meeting in the streets the first black men she ever saw, or hearing other languages than French, such as Arabic, Armenian, Italian or Spanish. In this Tower of Babel, she was proud to display her political refugee identity card every time she was asked to show her documents. The monumental staircase of the Saint-Charles railway station and the crowd roaming there reminded her of those in Odessa. During a medical check-up at a Red-Cross clinic, she was told that her anaemia was worrying: indeed she only weighed forty kilos, despite having begun a normal diet again. She was sent to a convalescence home near Paris, at Le Vésinet. She went unwillingly, sad to leave the blue sky and clear light of Provence. Her regret was even greater when she discovered the grey sky and the cold rain of the Paris region, hardly compensated by her marvel at the sites and monuments of France’s capital city. Since one of the reasons of her trip to France was the expectation to find her British cousin, Vlada went to ask the research services of the Red Cross for information. She was told that no data about this cousin was available but that an American officer had sought to contact him through the Red Cross. She accepted with excitement the offer to meet this American. He was in fact another cousin of Vlada’s, the son of her mother’s aunt who had emigrated to the United States in the early 1900s. Walter Sczudlo was his name, and he was born on US soil in 1907; at the beginning of the war he had enlisted in the US Army. Since he was from the Polish branch of Vlada’s maternal family, he could speak with her in Polish. So happy to meet his young cousin, and without hesitating, Walter offered her to take her with him to the US where she could settle. He just needed to take care of the paperwork for her to get her visa, but this could take some time. Meanwhile, Vlada spent several months at Le Vésinet recovering and returning to a size and weight more in line with Red Cross standards. She seized this opportunity to take French lessons to improve her conversation skills, and also some training in accounting in order to facilitate her future employment. Walter had to return to the United States before obtaining a visa for her, but he promised to keep trying back home. Vlada’s boredom came suddenly to an end when her doctor told her that she could leave the Vésinet home to return to Marseille. A room had been found for her at the workshop of a lady painter who was searching for young female models. 15
This is where she met a young Frenchman, Christian Finaud, who fell in love with her after she read cards to him and mentioned facts not from his future but from his part. She married him a couple of years later, after having told her American cousin that she now had a good reason for staying in Marseille. At the City Hall, Vlada retained her “reconstituted” civil registration (thanks to the complacent testimony of her husband’s friends) according to which she was born in Wilno, Poland, thus of Polish citizenship. She could therefore automatically gain French nationality. This “holy lie”, as Christian said, had already saved her life; it now gave her a second homeland. Renewing Contact In Germany, in 1946, Romas Sazenis also got married, to Marija Masanauskaité. They lived in Germany for three more years. Their first daughter Rasa was born in Germany in 1947 and the family arrived in Australia on September 6, 1948. Another daughter, Dalia, was born in November, 1948; a son, Algis, was born in 1951 and another, John, in 1959. They had chosen Australia because they wanted to be as far away as possible from a “ruined Europe”. It was also because, unlike some other countries of immigration, Australia took whole families, not just single workers. Romas worked as a builder until he retired. In the early 1950s, through one of his cousins, Leonas Ciudiskis, brother of Nata and Aldona, the twin sisters, Romas managed to locate Vlada in France and re-establish contact with her. Indeed, Leonas had escaped to England and started corresponding with his relatives in Lithuania shortly after the war. Leonas’ relatives told him that Vlada was living in France. Leonas had made contact with Romas and passed on this information to him. Vlada kept writing to Romas about her new life, the birth of her five children (Emmanuel in 1951, Marc in 1953, Michael in 1955, Beatrice in 1957, and Christian Jr in 1961), and later her seven grand-children. She also told him about her reunion with her Lithuanian family: for the first time in 1968 in Moscow (after 25 years’ separation). In 1977, Romas was travelling to the United States, and he decided to make a stop over in Marseille to visit Vlada. The reunion was joyous but full of emotions and memories. Later, Vlada wrote to Romas about her new meetings with her Lithuanian family, in 1978 in Leningrad, and in 1986 in Vilnius. However, her greatest joy was to write about the first time she could finally return to her native village, in liberated Lithuania in 1993, and visit her parents’ grave exactly fifty years after having left her country. She sent Romas a photo of her posing with her sisters near the birch tree planted by their father. She went back to Lithuania twice, in 1995 and 1998. In the meantime, Romas passed away in February 1998. He was shortly followed by Vlada, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer in October 1999.
Romas (right) with Vlada and her husband Christian in 1977 in Marseille
Both Romas and Vlada were people of the twentieth century, so indicative of the tragedy and resilience of many European people and their uprooting to other lands. They did not live to see a new century begin. Vlada and her sisters re-united near the birch tree in 1995
An urban myth or surfing history? *
The Australian Dictionary of Biography is a marvellous resource, especially since it has been available on line.5 Written by a wide range of authors, entries sometimes require revision, as is the case with the one the late UNE academic Bruce Mitchell wrote on William Henry Gocher, (1856–1921): Described as a ‘pioneer daylight surfer’, Gocher has become part of Sydney’s surfing history. This is an honour he did not earn and does not deserve. He is said to have played a pivotal role in overturning legislation that hampered the emergence of Australian beach culture. I believe the story of Gocher’s role is little more than an urban myth, created with the help of his friend solicitor Frank Donovan. The third paragraph of Mitchell’s article reads: ‘For some years Gocher wrote for John Norton's Truth. When he inherited money in 1900, he moved his family to Manly and established a short-lived newspaper, the Manly and North Sydney News. Through this paper he staged the scene at Manly for which he is remembered. He determined to expose the irrelevance of the local government regulations which forbade sea-bathing in daylight hours. The issue was one of public decency as there were no changing sheds and swimming costumes were rare. Clad in a neck-to-knee costume, Gocher in October, 1902, swam at midday after announcing his intentions in his paper. Twice ignored by the authorities, he duly criticized their lack of zeal; on a third occasion he was escorted from the water and interviewed by the police who brought no charges. In November, 1903 ,the reluctant Manly Council resolved to allow all-day bathing, rapidly growing in popularity, provided that a neck-to-knee costume was worn. Gocher claimed a triumph and in 1907, friends presented him with a gold watch and a purse of fifty sovereigns.’6 While Gocher may have performed this stunt, no contemporary record of his ‘exploit’ exists, nor did it have any impact on Manly Council’s decision to change its bathing regulations. Linking Gocher with this is erroneous. In addition, as Manly was not the first local council to change its regulations, its decision was not a ‘pioneering’ action. Sydneysiders first heard about Gocher’s ‘triumph’ five or six years after the ‘event’. According to an article in the Daily Telegraph in January, 1907, Gocher had challenged the restrictions on daylight bathing and initiated the ‘first decisive move in the direction of free and open dipping on Manly’s glorious beach in Australia’s brilliant sunshine’.7 Apparently, on some unspecified date,8 Gocher swam outside the prescribed daylight hours and unsuccessfully challenged the police to prosecute him, thus making a mockery of the *
[ Editor: Pauline Curby has worked as a freelance professional historian since the early 1990’s and has undertaken consultancies in oral history, environmental history, heritage and commissioned histories. Her publications include Seven Miles from Sydney. A History of Manly (Manly Council, 2001); and Randwick (Randwick Council, 2009). This won the NSW Premier’s Award (Regional and Community History), 2010. Pauline Curby is the recipient of the NSW History Fellowship, 2011, and is a member, and past president, of the Professional Historians Association of NSW.] 5 This article is based on extracts from the author’s: Seven Miles from Sydney, a History of Manly, Manly Council, 2001; Randwick (Randwick Council, 2009); History, Magazine of the Royal Australian Historical Society, June 2005. 6 http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/gocher-william-henry-6408 accessed on 25/1/2012 7 Daily Telegraph, January 7, 1907. 8 Later accounts usually fix the incident as early in the swimming season 1902.
restrictions on daylight bathing. This, it was claimed, led to the legalisation of all-day bathing.9 Although most Manly residents were unaware of his ‘triumph’, Gocher was not a complete nonentity. He was involved in the Manly Progress Association, and had unsuccessfully stood for political office on a number of occasions. However, his attempt to enter local politics in Manly in February, 1903, resulted in a crushing defeat.10 The Daily Telegraph article and one Gocher wrote in 1910 in The Sydney Sportsman11 are the only sources for what has become one of Sydney’s urban myths; no account of surfing or beach culture is complete without it.12 In Gocher’s account, he placed himself beside Truth proprietor, John Norton. as a champion of freedom against stuffy morality. Manly Council was depicted as the villain in the piece in both articles, but more so in Gocher’s later article, as the story developed.13 The real story Swimming and surfing in daylight hours became legal in Sydney as the result of an incident on Bondi. As at Coogee and Manly, ‘ocean bathing’ had been popular there since the 1880’s. So, when two policemen unexpectedly appeared on the beach with notebooks in hand on November 13, 1902, regular early morning surfers were defiant. This police visitation was a result of a complaint to Waverley Council that, ‘unless they are properly and becomingly clad’, bathers at Bondi were in breach of the Police Offences Act. Most of the bathers held back, but about 15 plunged into the water. Immediately the policemen began taking the names of those clad in ‘small trunks’. As a local clergyman and several professional men were among the miscreants, a furore erupted.14 The police, however, were reined in. As a result of the commotion Inspector General of Police,Edmund Fosbery, wrote to Waverley Council putting his policy on public record. He stated: So long as the bathers wear suitable bathing costumes and public decency is not outraged, I am unable to see that a practice permitted for so many years should be stopped … Unless, therefore, I receive instructions from the Government to the contrary I do not see my way to take action beyond instructing the police that decency is to be observed.15 No one was going to be prosecuted as long as Fosbery was in charge of police.16 Ten days after this declaration, Randwick Municipality proposed allowing daylight bathing, the first Municipality to do so in NSW. Then, in early December the Executive Council gave its approval for this by-law allowing male and female bathing in the sea in the municipality ‘at all times and at all hours of the day’ provided they be clothed ‘from the neck and shoulders to the knees with a suitable bathing dress or costume’.17 9
Daily Telegraph, January 7, 1907. Manly Municipal Council Minutes, February 9, 1903, p. 202. 11 The Sydney Sportsman, 9 November 1910, p. 2. His name was misspelt ‘Goacher’. 12 See, for example: C. B. Maxwell, Surf: Australians Against the Sea, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1949, pp. 14-16; and R. Quinn, ‘Kelly and the Shark and other Memories of Manly’ in the Bulletin, 29 September, 1943, p. 4. 13 Key details differ in the two accounts. See Manly Daily, November 17, 1910. 14 Sydney Morning Herald, November 14, 1902, p. 4. 15 Sydney Morning Herald, November 15, 1902, p. 7. 16 The Police Offences Act of 1901 reiterated the bathing regulations of 1838.The Statutes of NSW passed during the Session of 1901, Govt. Printer, Sydney, 1902, State Library of NSW, p. 60. 17 Sydney Morning Herald, December 4, 1902, p. 5. Waverley Council waited until 1905 before changing its by-laws to allow all-day bathing at Bondi and the other beaches of the municipality. Information supplied by Kathy Joss, reference librarian, Waverley Library, 2000. 10
A year later in November, 1903, Manly Council also changed its bathing regulations, but only after three issues had been resolved. The first two, relating to ‘decency’ and surf safety were common to all Sydney’s beaches. As a Council by-law specifying neck to knee costumes was being ‘rigorously enforced’18 and a Council-sponsored surf-boat would rescue, it was hoped, those in danger of drowning, it was considered prudent to make a change and allow surfing at any time. The third issue explains the timing of the regulation change. This was a purely local one involving the renewal of the harbour baths leases. The old lease had expired on October 1, 1903, and a new agreement was to be negotiated. As a result a three-year lease of the men’s baths for a significantly smaller sum than before was agreed to in recognition of the fact their profitability would decrease with the introduction of all-day bathing.19 Down on his luck Where does Gocher fit into this well documented story and why did he suddenly become a hero in 1907? At this time he seems to have been down on his luck and about to leave Manly. A few days after the Daily Telegraph article appeared, his friend, solicitor Frank Donovan, launched an appeal so a presentation could be made to him.20 Donovan’s action in ‘passing round the hat’ won Gocher an engraved watch, a purse of sovereigns and a place in history.21 Donovan’s motivation seems to have partly stemmed from the fact he was in dispute with a ‘backward’ Manly Council for its apparent lack of support for surfing. He cleverly manipulated this issue to further his career in local politics when Manly Surf Club was formed in August, 1907. As this story is part of our surfing history, it is important to know ‘what really happened’. The bathing regulations referred to were, however, only applicable to incorporated districts. These had no relevance to local beaches because Sutherland Shire Council was not incorporated until 1906, almost four years after the Executive Council ruled that Randwick could allow all-day bathing.
South Beach Bathers, John Sloan. Artist: John Sloan Date: 1907-1908 18
Sydney Morning Herald, January 7, 1903, p. 25. Manly Daily, October 18, 1907. 20 Daily Telegraph, January 7 & 12, 1907. 21 Sydney Morning Herald, February 13, 1907, p. 9. 19
LAND OF OPPORTUNITY A New South Wales Corpsman Merle Kavanagh
John Lees arrived in Port Jackson in June 1797 on the ship Ganges which carried 190 convicts and a detachment of the N. S. W. Corps, one Subaltern and 34 Privates. He was a native of Stoke in Staffordshire and had enlisted as a Private in September 1796 at Chatham on the south bank of the Thames, thirty miles east of London. In the pay list for 8 October – 24 December 1796 he received ₤2.12s for 78 days at 8d.i The N.S.W. Corps was formed in London in 1789 and the first detachments arrived at Port Jackson with the second fleet in June 1790. Up until that time the Marines had been keeping order in the colony of Sydney but their officers were not disposed to the special needs of the new and isolated colony which included judicial duties. With this in mind it was decided to raise a regiment where the officers were aware of the extent of their duties and, of course, this meant that more serving men would be needed.ii
A NSW Corpsman of the 18th century
This regiment began arriving as guards on the second fleet in 1790, but Major Francis Grose, Commander of the Corps and Lt. Governor of the colony, did not arrive until February 1792 and by the end of that year the Governor, Arthur Phillip, had sailed for England, taking with him the aborigines Bennelong and Yemmerrawannie. This left Grose in charge but he was very lax. The Officers of the N.S.W. Corps virtually controlled the colony, taking every advantage of their position. They had already begun to trade during Phillip’s governorship, chartering the storeship Britannia to bring supplies from Cape Town ‘for the relief’ of the soldiers. Phillip had his suspicions and these were confirmed when a large quantity of spirits were imported. This began a continuous trade which eventually gave the Corps its nickname of the ‘Rum Corps’. At the end of 1792 the American ship Hope arrived and Grose found it was necessary to buy 34,095 litres of spirits in order to obtain other cargo.iii After Phillip left, the Officers of the Corps were in an unassailable position, delivering more law than order. They were arrogant, demanding respect but giving none. They were cruel and ruthless, monopolizing business to their own advantage. The powers of the Civil Magistrates were suspended and transferred to the N.S.W. Corps officers.iv When Governor John Hunter arrived almost three years after Phillip’s departure, they were well entrenched. Hunter tried to stop the officers from buying spirits but was unsuccessful. He was not a good businessman and very ineffective. In 1800 his term was completed and he was finally recalled, sailing in October on the Buffalo, which carried some merino fleece samples from John Macarthur’s farm.v Back in England he lobbied unsuccessfully for the recall of the N.S.W. Corps.vi Mary Stevens had arrived earlier in Sydney on the Earl Cornwallis on 12 June 1801 along with 166 male and 86 female prisoners, survivors of the original cargo of 193 male and 95 female convicts.vii She had been sentenced on 28th March 1799 at Ilchester, Somerset to seven years transportation for stealing 17 yards of printed cotton value 20 shillings of Thomas Andrews.viii Aged 21 at that time, she was 23 when she disembarked on the other 20
side of the world. It was a new country and a new life after seven months at sea. Seven months later she was expecting John Lees’ child and daughter Maria was born on 7 September 1802.ix The Register showed only the mother’s name, as John and Mary did not marry until 20th November 1809.x However they lived as man and wife from the beginning of their relationship. Land was offered to Corpsmen when their term finished and John took advantage of this, applying for and being granted on 4 June 1804 90 acres of land for himself and child on the River Nepean at an area known as Birds Eye Corner. His neighbours were Christopher Frederick who came free and George Fieldhouse, another N.S.W. Corpsman. The public road ran past his land which contained a creek and a lagoon.xi John was already living there with Mary and their child when the Sydney Gazette for 26 February 1804 reported – “A few days since a temporary residence on the Nepean belonging to John Lees, lately discharged from the New South Wales Corps and among the number that embraced the offer of becoming settlers, unfortunately took fire, and was shortly consumed, together with every article of wearing apparel, and its various other contents. Upon a representation to His Excellency of the unfortunate event, he has since been furnished with such articles of clothing from the store, as his immediate necessities required, and his general character rendered him deserving of.”
John and his family probably only had a basic shelter with limited possessions and the loss of everything would have been keenly felt. Life moved on and John planted wheat and corn on his land. The family grew – another daughter, Hannah, born in June 1804, a few months after the fire. In August a son, Richard, was welcomed, no doubt with a liberal portion of the colony’s currency – Rum. John was not one to change the habits learned in the N.S.W. Corps. The three children were Christened at St. Phillips in January 1806.xii In March of 1806 massive flooding of the Hawkesbury area destroyed crops and the harvest reserves of the previous year. Samuel Marsden and Thomas Arndell were moved to report on the disaster – “… where the soldiers are settled, the river overflowed the banks and if we may judge from present appearances, the whole of the settlement will be destroyed at some future period.”xiii
John lost four acres of corn but still held 5 bushels of wheat. His farm recovered and he was given a government servant (convict). In fact, John appears to have extended his farm to the surrounding area as in the1806 Muster he was shown as farming 146 acres and holding four hogs each of male and female. John, his family and his convict servant were not dependant on the Government stores. Two more children, John and Mary, were born and the river flooded again in the following three years.xiv In 1809 the new St. Phillips church was opened in Sydney and John and Mary married there, the 11th couple to do so.xv In the colony marriages were not commonplace, probably due to lack of clergy or priest, the pre-occupation of successive Governors and the daily struggle to provide for family. When Lachlan Macquarie was appointed Governor in 1810, the colony progressed. Throughout all the difficulties Mary worried about her husband who was drinking too often and too much. He lost some land and livestock and other possessions in the pursuit of alcohol’s haze but a strange experience changed his life. Two versions were published in 21
the 1850s by Christian Ministers. The first in 1853 was included in a book on The Life of the Rev. Samuel Leigh by Rev. Alexander Strachan – While in bed one night in a sound sleep his mind wandered to the usual place of conviviality. He was in the act of grasping a spirit bottle to fill another glass when to his terror he observed the snake rising out of the bottle with expanded jaws and striking its fangs in all directions. Its deadly eye flashing fire was fixed upon him and occasioned a convulsive horror which awoke him. He thanked God that it was but a dream yet the impression then made upon his mind could never be obliterated.
The other version was published in the Christian Advocate and Wesleyan Record in 1859 – Stepping out of his hut one night for a log of wood to lay on his fire, while in the act of laying hold to lift it from the ground, he accidentally grasped in his hand a DEADLYSNAKE! The fearful reptile instantly bit him on the wrist. As death often ensues shortly after a bite of this kind, he was seized with violent alarm for his life. … He hastened to Windsor a neighbouring township to seek relief. On entering the house of the Rev. Mr. Cartwright, he fell fainting on the threshold.
There is probably little doubt that John had an attack of delirium tremins – the D.Ts. brought on by too much alcohol. Whatever the cause, John was a changed man. His drinking days were over and, assisted by the Rev. Minister he became a devout Christian even his cows could not be milked on Sundays. When a Wesleyan missionary, the Rev. Samuel Leigh arrived in the colony in August 1815 on the Hebe he was eager to travel out into the country to bring his message to the people there. Arriving in the Castlereagh area where the Lees family dwelled, Leigh needed some accommodation and asked at one house if he could leave his horse in the yard and sleep himself in the barn. He received a blunt refusal, but asked if the owner knew of anyone who might take him in and was referred to John Lees. A young Lees lad met Leigh at the gate and said “My father will be glad to see you” and swung the gate open. John’s opening words to the missionary were “We have been praying for three years that God would send us a missionary.” John had built a chapel in the forest on his land and Rev. Leigh used it for services. Before long a second larger chapel was built by John and given freely to the Wesleyan mission. It was 28 ft. x 14 ft. x 12 ft. high and some 50 miles from Sydney, so the first chapel was used as a sleeping room for the visiting preacher. Some visitors to the area recorded their impressions of the second chapel – There is something romantic in the approach to the little chapel. We have first to sail over a little stream, and then to walk through the cornfields, which are covered with plenty. Before you, the fruitful fields are bounded by deep, umbrageous forests and these again by the Blue Mountains, whose rugged and solemn brows stretch away on either hand beyond the trace of the eye. In the midst of this interesting scene stands the humble temple of our God…” (Rev. R. Mansfield, 18 Sept. 1820)xvi Looking round again towards the right, on the road leading from Emu to Richmond, we see a neat weather-board chapel,… in good repair with a board over the door, on which we observe the words, painted in large letters ‘Prepare to meet thy God’. This was the Wesleyan Chapel, but just on the other
The Lees Family Plaque
side of the creek and near a fig tree is a dwelling house fronting us and another building attached to it … That is THE FIRST WESLEYAN CHAPEL BUILT IN AUSTRALIA. The dwelling is that in which Mr. John Lees lived and died. This land was dedicated to the missionary cause during the early years of its existence in this country. Mr. Lees annually ploughed, sowed and harrowed it, reaped the produce… and regularly forwarded it without charge to assist in supplying the missionary’s table. (James Rutledge, November 1840)xvii
John was involved in building a third chapel with others to give church access to people closer to their homes. It was well known in the settlement that robberies occurred while people were distantly absent from their homes so the more chapels, the closer to homes and the less robberies.xviii The Christian ministers who came to the area always wrote of John’s generosity towards the church. One year his farm could barely supply his family and John had been unable to pay his subscription to the church. As times improved he paid double the following year.xix John had attained quite a standing in the community and in February 1819 Rev. Henry Fulton had declared him with others “Fit to be jurors”. He was also able to acquire government servants (convicts) and in 1831 he was granted another 80 acres at Castlereagh which he called ‘Stoke’ after his native place. He had sold 30 acres of his original grant some time previously. He was still very much involved with the Wesleyan church but with the Church of England prominent in the colony, the Wesleyans had to abide by their rules.He continued to acquire land, receiving 284 acres in 1831 which was recorded as ‘Pankle’, though this is probably a corruption of Penkhull, a village in the area of John’s native place. This grant was given, bearing in mind that the government agreed to give 100 acres to citizens for every convict maintained for one year. A momentous decision was made in January 1827 when John advertised his home farm (59 acres) for sale – house, 2 rooms, cow yard, fowl shed, pig styes, barn and granary. The family moved to Castlereagh Street in Sydney and this left John open to temptation. He was not well and the doctor prescribed a ‘quantity of brandy’ every day. But keeping to one drink proved impossible for John. He was confined to his bed and kept up his Sabbath School there with the local children but slowly slipped into his old ways. The Rev. Joseph Orton wrote in his diary I found him in a state of bodily agony and spiritual depression – poor man! He has Unhappily given way to the temptation of an excess of liquor originally prescribed for his diseased body – which has led, to that which is far worse, a diseased soul.xx
John Lees died on 28 August 1836 and was buried in the Church of England cemetery at Lower Castlereagh, Henry Fulton’s church. As the Wesleyans at that time had no cemetery nor even legal right to marry or buy, John was buried in the old C. of E. graveyard at Lower Castlereagh, at a different angle from the others buried there.xxi Mary, his wife died in July 1839 and was buried at Castlereagh. They would rest in peace for about 80 years.
The Exhumation of John Lees in 1921
The family carried on in Christian endeavours and when the old wooden chapel became too small it was necessary to raise funds to build another, mainly with ‘ tea meetings. By 1847 the new church was being used. The Rev. John Pemell preached the last service in the old church, noting “The floor of the pulpit had rotted away and I stood with my feet resting on two flooring joists.”xxii He wrote of other difficulties for he was shy and nervous and had never baptized a baby. He asked Sarah The Old Wooden Chapel Gorman, daughter of John Lees, to save the baptisms for the other Minister, Rev. Schofield. But he underestimated this lady who saved 5 baptisms for him on his next visit, handing him a towel and water bowl with a ‘smirk’ on her face.xxiii In 1917 the church celebrated the Centenary of the opening of the first Chapel. It was suggested that John Lees’ tombstone should be moved to the site of the new church and that a tablet be placed on the walls to commemorate the establishment of the first church and the centenary celebrations. Four years later, in October 1921, there was a significant occasion in the history of Methodism at Castlereagh. John Lees’ body was exhumed and reburied at the current church. Many attended and a suitable tablet was unveiled of the occasion. Outside, a plaque showed that the 1847 church was erected in the place of the first Wesleyan chapel in Australia, built by John Lees in 1817. His work had been xxiv acknowledged. There are many descendants of John and Mary Lees scattered throughout the country. One great, great, grandson is another remarkable man. Sir Edward John Lees Hallstrom was born in 1886, his line from John Lees descending through son John and the Colless and Hallstrom families. His was a household name in the 1930s/40s when his refrigerators occupied many kitchens. He was a self-made man, very philanthropic and a great benefactor to the Sydney’s Taronga Park Zoo. Having been given the name of an extraordinary ancestor, he lived up to his heritage and made his mark during his lifetime despite some professional criticism of his lack of qualifications.xxv John Lees would have approved. End Notes. 1 Public Record Office (P.R.O.) London, War Office (W.O.) 12 11028. 2 Wikipedia, New South Wales Corps, p.1 3 Barker, Anthony, When was that? Chronology of Australia, John Ferguson Pty. Ltd., Surry Hills 1988 p.10 3 Barker, op.cit, p.10 4 Barker, op.cit, p.26 5 Wikipedia, New South Wales Corps, p.2 6 Archives Office of N.S.W. (A.O.N.S.W.) Reel 392 No. 442. 7 P.R.O. London ASSI 23 9. 8 A.O.N.S.W. Reel 5001 (Vol. 1, Entry 1563); Reel 5002 (Vol. 4 Entry 728 p.171) 9 A.O.N.S.W. Reel 5002 (Vol.5, Entry 11) 10 Reg. General Office, Sydney. Grant No. 132 (4). 11 A.O.N.S.W. Reels 5001 (Vol. 1 Entry 1565); & Reel 5002 (Vol. 4 Entries 910-912) 12 Mitchell Library (M.L.) A/1980-2) King paper Vol. 8 Crops in hand and losses in 1806. 13 Fraser, Bryce, Macquarie Book of Events, p. 572. 14 Fraser, op.cit. p.432. 15 Uniting Church Archives. Christian Advocate. April/May 1860. “Reminiscences of a revival of religion at Castlereagh in 1840-51”. 16 Colwell, James, The History of Methodism in Australia, p.68. 17 Mitchell Library, A.J.C.P. Reel FM4 1398, 9 Sept. 1817. 18 Carvosso, Benjamin, Christian Miscellany and FamilyVisitor,1850, “The Australian Settler”. 19 M.L., A/1714. Journal of Rev. Joseph Orton. 20 M.L., A/1714 .Journal of Rev. Joseph Orton 21 M.L. A/425 Rev. John Pemell. Life of an early Methodist Preacher. 22 M.L. op.cit. 23 The Methodist, 20 October 1817 24 Australian Dictionary of Biography, Hallstrom, Sir Edward John lees (1886-1970), online version.
From the Bush to the Beach Alana Bishop22 Australia is a vast island continent, and the climatic diversity has resulted in two different iconic figures emerging in Australian history, that of the rugged bushman and the surf lifesaver.23 Although, the coast was naturally discovered first, the grand vision of the 18th and 19th centuries was concerned with the opening up of the vast inland plains together with the search for the inland sea. This vision required a certain type – the laconic bushman, certainly more at home with his horse than “Mrs bushman”. He was rugged, independent and an appropriate icon for an emerging nationalism.24 In popular culture, i.e. magazines such as The Bulletin and Smith’s Weekly and the writings of Banjo Patterson, this resulted in figures such as “Clancy of the Overflow” and “the Man from Snowy River”. Australians are essentially a coastal people. More than seventy percent of the population lives within an hour of the beach, with the majority clustering along the eastern seaboard. In 1901, seven per cent of Australia’s population lived in non-capital coastal towns, Today that figure would be more like nineteen per cent.25 Because of this characteristic of the Australian settlement pattern, it may be concluded that this was a contributing factor to the changing culture and iconography of Australia. The Surf Lifesaver – An Icon for the Australian way of Life It should be noted though, Australia’s infatuation with life near the beach did not begin overnight; people were already gravitating towards the freedom and excitement the beach symbolised as early as the 1880s. “Life in a hard and hostile country had given the Australian of the 1880’s three major characteristics – an independence of spirit, a contempt for authority and a hard, strong body which he liked to exercise. When those characteristics were placed side by side with the 12,000 miles of coastline ringing Australia, almost all of it in the form of golden beaches, it was only a matter of time before the Australian defied authority and took the plunge.”26 The plunge caused the removal of Section 78 [Police Offences Act, NSW 1974], originally enacted around the turn of the 20th century. This Act prohibited bathing in view of the 22
[Editor: Alana Bishop graduated from UTS in 2003 with a Bachelor’s degree (Hons.1) in Interior Design. In her final year, Alana changed direction from interior design per se to event design, i.e. event production. After graduation, she briefly worked for the Freedom Furniture Company. Her current position is Senior Event Producer, Lateral Marketing. Alana was the Event Producer fort visits by Heston Blumenthal (2011, 2012) and David Attenborough (2012).] 23 This article is the first chapter of a much longer study, The Australian Weekender – The Littoral of Coast and th Culture. The study was completed in 2001 in partial fulfilment of the requirements for entry to the 4 year of the Bachelor of Design (Interior) degree at UTS. Apart from some minor changes, the text remains substantially the same as was written in 2001. 24 Cf: R Ward, The Australian Legend, MUP, 1958. The book, though published well into the 20th century is only concerned with the colonial period. Significantly, the index does not list the following: beach, coast, surf, swim or their derivatives. 25 Gittins, (2002), p.11 Gittens article is about general trends whilst recent articles in the SMH series, “Beyond the Fringe” (29/4 – 2/5/02) particularise this change for both Sydney’s northern ( Avoca and North Terrigal – Jopson ) and southern beach suburbs ( Shellharbour and Kiama – Stevenson [2002a]). 26 Margan, (1970), p.130
public between 6am and 8pm, and, in effect, prevented the development of a surf culture. William Gocher, Manly businessman, is popularly credited with this first plunge.27 This historical event came at a time of burgeoning social change. Although it carried a social impact, the emergence of the life- saver as an icon for the Australian way of life was coined not by this sole incident, but was shaped by a number of events. With the start of Federation in 1901, and the “They first came in ones, then twos, then in the twenties, then in the hundreds. By 1928, Manly joining of the states, there emerged a second in mid-Summer presented this scene.” (Margan, Nationalism. This newly ascertained sense of 1970, p. 32) Nationalism began a search for the essence of what it meant to be an Australian. World War I contributed to this development. Strangely, it was then that the bush and surf culture began to overlap. At Gallipoli in World War I, when the troops had some leave at Cape Hellas at the southern tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula, the infantry and the light horsemen headed into the sea. “At Gallipoli the hard, dusty old bush tradition and the beach traditions of naked freedom and pleasure met…”28 When the soldiers returned home, there was increasing evidence of the notion beach culture was taking over from the bush as the primary lifestyle of Australia. The soldiers’ experiences overseas probably contributed to this development. Australia's population growth and cultural change at this time may have been a greater contributing factor. The concept of interacting with nature is an integral part of being an “Aussie” and the bush became less accessible in this respect as a result of urbanisation. The Royal Life Saving Society appeared on our sand just before the turn of the twentieth century when the need arose for some organisation of assistance and rescues for those times when the surf became more treacherous than the inexperienced beach-goers would survive. There has been some argument to which was the first actual surf club – Bondi or Bronte? ‘Bronte may have had the first organised life saving team performing rescues in the surf, but it didn’t get around to constituting a club
“Australian soldiers serving in Palestine during Worl War II formed their own surf patrols. Gaza, 1941” (Longhurst, 2000, p. 39)
“By 1910 a handful of volunteer Surf Life Saving Clubs had been formed and the unique organisation, the Surf Life Saving Association was to spread its influence around the world for the next half century. This is a picture of Bronte Surf Life Saving Club of 1909.” (Margan, 1970, p. 24)
See: Meacham, (2002). The Beach, (2001). This “overlap” is, perhaps, even more apt in the similar scene in The Light Horsemen (1987) – the light horsemen even swim with their horses. For details of films mentioned in this dissertation, see: Internet Movie Database (http://www.imdb.com). 28
until March 1907. In the meantime Bondi had constituted a surf live saving club in February 1906. By the end of 1907 there were nine surf life saving clubs in Sydney, who formed the Surf Bathing Association of New South Wales. As clubs started in other states, the name was changed to the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia.’29 The notion of a beach culture had developed and the pastime of swimming, body-surfing and enjoying the great Australian beaches had become a popular choice. Since the arrival of the Surf Life Saving Clubs and the Association (this year the association will celebrate their 95th anniversary), generations of young, committed, selfless Australians have volunteered, providing help and assistance to the general public.30 The surf-lifesaver icon emerged with the inevitable development of a classless society, combined with the increase in population movement to coastal areas. The surf-lifesaver incorporated some of the qualities of that of the bushman hero, such as bronzed by the sun, brave, optimistic, sportsman-like, skilled and admired. Yet there was a main difference in the two icons; the surf-lifesaver was born from a new culture based generally on the equality of the classes. Rank and status are often shed as socio-economic forces peel away your clothing31. The bronzed lifesaver become internationally recognised as part of the Australian way of life. He was the person whom we wanted to be identified with and whom we looked up to. Take for example the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932. Douglas Annad was commissioned to design a poster to celebrate this historic event. The foreground of the artwork is consumed with an image of an Australian Lifesaver32. We may ask why? The answer is obvious. It was because the lifesaver was deemed as a recognisable and identifiable Aussie character that had helped shaped our past and was to become an integral part of our future.
“Images of Summer – Bronzed Aussie Gods.” (Longhurst, 2000, p. 48)
Douglas Annad’s poster. (Annad, 1982, pp. 16-17) Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh first visited Australia in 1954. Sydney's welcome for the young monarch was well prepared and during her stay here in Sydney, the Queen and the Duke spent their days visiting school children, war widows, assorted clergy, the races and, of course, a surf carnival. It was all part of the initiation process of understanding the beach culture which had become an Australian way of life.
Wells, (1982), pp.170-171 See the cover of Longhurst, (2000). 31 The Beach, (2001). 32 Annad (1982), pp.16-17. More recently, the poster was reprinted in the Herald’s 50th Anniversary Souvenir Issue (SMH, 19/3/02). Similar iconography is also evident in “pub art”; see: Stephens (1990), pp.50-55. Surf imagery has been used to sell a variety of products: the expected swimming costume (Bryden-Brown , p. 164, but also electric fans (p.55), soft drink, i.e. Cocoa-Cola (pp. 82, 83), petrol (p.194) and beer (p.103 – this image is also on the front cover). 30
Surfie Culture in Australia The 1950s were a time of social change; here we see the emergence of the surf culture. A not always fair analogy, surfers were often viewed in a derogatory way, take for example John Fiske’s view – he sees the surfer lying somewhere between the ‘citizen and the criminal’33. Thought of as bludgers and rebels, who acted recklessly and irresponsibly, life for the surfer was determined by the waves; ‘the weather map dictated which direction these free-spirited wave hunters would point their Kombi’34. Their passion was and is the sea. For them it is the rhythm of life; it is part of who they are and how they choose to live. A surfer enjoys the waves at Sandon
For a couple of entrepreneurial surfers, a realisation Point, NSW (Margan, 1970, p. 183) that the life of summers, waves and “hot chick” would eventually have to come to an end, helped them to see a niche in the fashion market which they could exploit. The likes of Brian Singer (Rip Curl), Doug Warbrik (Rip Curl35), Gordon Merchant (Billabong), Alan Green (Quiksilver) and John Law (Quiksilver36) created the surfing labels that provide the street and surf wear for the Australian youth market. They have become a huge part of Australia’s beach culture. Rip Curl, Billabong, and Quiksilver are all surf labels that started around the late 1960s or early 1970s as part of the evolving surf culture. These businesses were all backyard operations, started by surfers for surfers. They are now part of an international market, with an annual turnover of $900 million (in 1999).37 They provide a large collection of quintessential leisure requisites for the surfer and for those who just enjoy the lifestyle it conjures; surfboards, swimwear, shirts, eyewear, caps, bags, wallets, watches, jewellery, posters, postcards and books. These retailers of the beach lifestyle have gained the respect from the surfers and recognition from the public as an icon for the Australian way of life. As the tough bush existence becomes an obviously outdated version of national identity and culture, the figure of the bronzed, fit, brave, and optimistic lifesaver fills the existing gap. If the essence of our Australian culture represents, among other things, a closeness with our environment, such meaning could not be found in the city – unless it is on the surf beaches. So, as the bushman becomes less relevant to modern Australia, the ideology, which made him a legend and a figure of historical importance, especially in regard to his harmony with the natural landscape and his physical strength and vigour, now supports the beach and the lifesaver.38
RipCurl Surfing label
Billabong Surfing label. Quiksilver Surfing label.
www.ripcurl.com www.billabong.com/2001 www.quiksilver.com .
34 35 36 37 38
Tulloch,(1987), p.67 Information sourced from the Billabong Website: http://www.billabong.com/2001/ Information sourced from Ripcurl Website: http://www.ripcurl.com/ Information sourced from Quiksilver Website: http://www.quiksilver.com.au/content/default.asp/ Creating an Australian Icon – The Rip Curl Image,(1999) Tulloch,(1987), p.54
Sun, Sand and Surf– What do these things mean to Australians? Australians have a unique and distinctive relationship with the landscape. A continued debate concerns our heightened response and relationship with our environment (nature) rather than our European history (culture). Art Historian, Juliana Engberg, examined this idea of nature versus culture, in the documentary, The Beach39. Her differing perspective views the beach not as a natural place but instead as a place of culture. She sees the beach as a cultural parade, a stage, for social comment. Here we compete for attention; it becomes our public playground.
“All of our senses are heightened by the beach…the crunch of dry sand underfoot…”(Burns, 1999, p. 8)
“All of our senses are heightened by the beach. We can easily recall the taste of salt on our tongues, the crunch of dry sand underfoot, the crash of waves on the shore, the smell of seaweed washed up on the high tide, and the sight of the everchanging colour of the sea depending of the time of day.”40
Regardless of opinion, the beach is loved by Australians, and it confirms our love for our surroundings. Australians love the outdoors; it is part of who we are and that is why it is such a huge part of our leisure time and social activities.41 Australia is the land of the long weekend and the eternal suntan. Almost all of the major Australian cities are situated on or near the ocean. For Sydneysiders as well as those who live in other cities, swimming, surfing and sailing are possible on an almost daily basis in the summer months. With over 36, 000 kilometres of scenic coastline, there is an abundance of places to worship the ethos of sun, sand and surf. This ideology has shaped the laid back Aussie character. Beach culture has become a religion in Australia and is still very much alive.42 The Great Getaway - The emergence of the Weekender The earliest incarnation of the beach house in Australia was probably a simple wooden hut for changing, and for storing towels and umbrellas. “The fibro shack sprang up, during the middle of last century.”43 As the working week came to an end, city dwellers would journey to the coastal cities and towns outside the metropolitan areas. They travelled to their unpretentious timber-framed structures, invariably clad in inexpensive fibro panels. They were of little distinction but they provided a getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. They supported uncluttered living areas for simplicity and ease and decks looking out over the ocean for relaxation and entertaining. Some may say that the fibro house was the bungalow reinvented and adapted to the Australian way of life. The first bungalow to be constructed in England was apparently in 1869 in the community of Margate, which was developed as a village by the sea for recreation. The notion of the Bungalow reached an 39
The Beach , (2001). Burns, (1999), p.8 41 “The counter-ideology affirming nature over culture is one of the enduring myths of Australia, signifying a distinctive Australian relationship with the landscape. The openness and friendliness of the Australian people is linked with the outdoors as the natural location for social interaction.” Tulloch,(1987), p.43 42 Gollings, (1999), p.110 43 ibid., p.110 40
all time high during the 1920s, and carried well into the 1930s. These structures “became part of the wealthy middle class who desired second cottages in the hinterland or by the sea.”44 The spirit and appeal of the Bungalow was about the freshness of the seaside escape and a return to nature in an attempt to strengthen ‘far from the madding crowd’45 for the next week’s toil.
This unpretentious fibro beach cottage was built in 1928.(Burns, 1999, p. 25)
“The beach house is no longer just an annual destination, but a way to unwind as the hectic week comes to a close.”46 If there is one thing that symbolises the Australian way of life – it is leisure time in a weekend house, near the sea. It is with ‘utter abandon’47 that families vacate the city and head for the coast. Time is spent with the senses being aroused by the crash of the waves, the smell of the salt in the sea breeze and the grit of the sand under foot48. Initially, the Australian weekender was a flimsy construction built out of a cheap and readily available material – fibro. Initially imported from France and the UK, by 1916 it was manufactured here in Australia. Thus affordable fibro was ideally placed to be the construction material of choice when the “weekender boom took off”. It was the aftermath of World War II (1939-1945) that was responsible for the next major shift development of Sydney’s Culture. Prior to 1960 it was the poor who had lived near the sea because the land was cheap and was considered by many as undesirable. It was socially desirable to live in the traditional inner city suburbs. For many Australians, the post war period was the time to make up for six lost years – the population soared. Once wartime austerity ended, economic boom times ensured. Demographics and economics ensured that after 1960, with the development of the Australian beach culture, and the surfie lifestyle, many people adopted the coast as a place of residence or retreat. This new class, who derived aesthetic pleasure from the sea, joined the fishermen who made their livings from the sea. They were unconcerned with notions of class and wealth. With this arrived a new freedom for designers. Traditionally the town house had been used as a public and social commentary. Not so the beach house. It was now a manifestation of a new egalitarianism: “The town house is our public face – how we want to be seen by others; the beach house is an expression of how we really see ourselves. We sanction, even encourage, innovative designers for beach houses because at the beach we are less likely to be concerned with impressing people and with conformity. We allow our holiday houses to honestly express the identity of their inhabitants and their surrounds.”49
The weekender, in historical terms, was moderate in size and cost to construct – the predominant aim being to maximise a sense of freedom and ease of use in open spaces, both inside and out of the house. They were primitive in style, and their emphasis was based on an emerging Australian, modern simplicity.50 44
Johnson, (1980), p.42 ibid., p.45 46 ibid., p.11; a point made very forcefully in Martin, (2002). 47 Crafti, (2000), p.12 48 A very similar point is made by Stevenson (2002b). 49 Burns, (1999), p.9 50 ibid., p.12 45
References Annad (1982), D, “1932 Celebration Poster”, Main Roads, 47(1), Department of Main Roads (now Roads and Traffic Authority), pp. 16-17. The Beach (2001), Australian Film Finance Corporation. Bryden-Brown (1981), J , Ads that made Australia, Doubleday (Aust.). Burns (1999), J, Australian Beach Houses: Living by the Sea, Lansdowne Publishing. Crafti (2000). S, Beach Houses of Australia and New Zealand, The Images Publishing Group. Creating an Australian Icon – the Rip Curl Image (1999), Video Classroom (Melbourne). Gittins (2002), R,“Tune into Relocation, Relocation”,Syd. Morning Herald, March 20.p. 11. Gollings (1999), J, New Australian Style, Thames and Hudson.. Johnson (1980) D, Australian Architecture 1901-51: Sources of Modernism, Sydney UP. Jopson (2002) D, “As they flee Sydney, it follows them up the coast” , Sydney Morning Herald, 29, pp. 1, 6. The Light Horsemen (1987), International Film Management. Longhurst (2000), R, The Lifesaver – Images of Summer, Playright Publishing (Sydney). Margan (1970), F, A Pictorial History of Surfing, Paul Hamlyn. Martin (2002), C, “”The house that Mike Willesee has no time for”, Sydney Morning Herald, March 31, p. 49. Meacham (2002), S, “Wave of cold water dumps on a surfing hero”, Sydney Morning Herald, February 15, p.9. Stephens (1990), A, “Ale and Arty” , Good Weekend, pp. 50-55, in Sydney Morning Herald, September 8-9 Stevenson (2002a), A, “Up at Sparrows, going home is what drives them on”, Sydney Morning Herald, May 1, p.1. Stevenson (2002b), A,“Facing Life on the edge after taking plunge to leave city”,Sydney Morning Herald, May 1, p.6. Tulloch (1987), J, ed., Myths of Oz: Reading Australian Popular Culture, Allen & Unwin. Ward (1958), R, The Australian Legend, Melbourne UP. Wells (1982), L, Sunny Memories: Australians at the Seaside, Greenhouse Publications (Victoria).
A Botanical View Alan Fairley MACROZAMIA COMMUNIS, BURRAWANG A plant from the age of the dinosaurs Name derivation Macro: large. Zamia: a closely related genus from the Americas. communis : growing in communities. Plants are often found growing together in large groups. Burrawang: from barawan(g), the name for the species in the Dharuk language of the Blue Mountains.
Macrozamias are sometimes mistaken for palms but in fact belong to a very ancient group of plants known collectively as Cycads. They have dark green tough leaves arising from a central trunk which is mostly underground. Leaves are up to 2 metres long and have numerous sharp leaflets, 10 to 25 cm long. These leaves are often used as palm substitutes in churches on Palm Sunday. The plants bear cones not flowers, an indication of their ancient origin. Male and female cones are carried on separate plants. Cones are large and conspicuous, 20-45cm long and up to 20cm across. When ripe, the female cone splits open to reveal large bright red seeds. The bright colour of the seeds is a warning sign as they contain toxic compounds which have Cycad Seeds been known to be fatal to both animals and humans. Most cycads produce toxic azoglucosides and neurotoxic non-protein amino acids. These toxins are known to cause chronic liver disease in sheep, gastro-intestinal haemorrhage in dogs and death in cattle and horses, although native mammals such as possums and bandicoots eat the orange seed coating without apparent effect. For Aboriginal people, burrawang seeds were an important part of their diet, being a plentiful source of starch. It is known that the Cadigal people of the Sydney area developed a method of leaching to remove the toxins, first pounding the seeds then soaking them in water for a week, regularly changing the water. Sometimes the seeds were submerged in fibre bags in running streams. The pulp was then roasted over hot embers.51 Macrozamia and other cycads flourished during the time of the dinosaurs. They were widespread and pervasive throughout the Mesozoic (250-65 mill. years ago) and are among the most primitive living seed-bearing plants found today. By contrast, the first flowering plants did not appear until 140 mill years ago. It is not too fanciful to imagine the 51
. B. Asmussen. “A Comparative Ethnobotany of Aboriginal Processing Methods”. Technical Reports of the Australian Museum, 23. 2011.
dinosaurs walking through groves of macrozamias and even eating the leaves. Remains of cycads have been found in fossilised dinosaur dung. These ancient plants were presumed to have been wind-pollinated but recent findings52 indicate that highly specialised insects, such as species of thrips and weevils, are involved in the pollination process. These insects carry out their life cycle within the tissues of the male cones but visit the female cones in large numbers and are effective pollen carriers. Cycads are common in the fossil record of Australia, especially from the Jurassic Period (208-144 mill years ago). Both fossil leaves and pollen have been found. Macrozamia leaves have been recorded from fossil sites in Tasmania from Oligocene rocks (36-23 mill years ago).53 There are currently 41 species of Macrozamia in Australia, although new species are being identified as taxonomic work improves. Three species are found within the Greater Sydney area. Macrozamia communis. The most common and widespread, being distributed all along the coast and central tablelands from Armidale in the north to Bega in the south, and west to the Mudgee district. It grows chiefly in sheltered eucalypt forests. Macrozamia spiralis. A smaller plant with leaves twisted half a turn (as suggested by the name). It occurs on clay soils in western Sydney between Bankstown and Putty. Macrozamia elegans. A recently named species (1998) restricted to the Wheeny Creek-Mt Lagoon area. It is distinguished by the pink bases of the leaflets.
communis with divided trunk.
. L.I. Terry, et al. “Pollination of Australian Macrozamia cycads”. American Journal of Botany, 92. 2005. . R.J. Carpenter. “Macrozamia from the Early Tertiary of Tasmania”. Australian Systematic Botany,4. 1991.
Scattered Seeds Garriock Duncan
The Other Navel of the World: Delphi I was at a bit of a quandary re a title for this article. It is, in fact, the prequel to Marika Low’s article on Easter Island in the May edition of Doryanthes. Perhaps it should be “Another Navel; of the World: Delphi”? This raises the question as to how many navels can the world have. While we humans, generally, have no more than one, the world clearly has at least, two. Delphi has one significant advantage over Easter Islands in that it does have the navel, the omphalos: What the Delphians call the navel is made of white stone: the Delphians maintain, and Pindar writes to the same effect in one of his odes, that it is the centre of the earth. Pausanias, 10.16.2. In 2003, a rather forlorn looking stone was somewhat carelessly propped up in a corner of the Delphi Museum.54
Delphi is synonymous with the Delphic Oracle of Pythian Apollo.55 There were other oracles to be consulted in ancient Greece. A strong rival for Delphi was the oracle of Zeus at Dodona. Thought it is rather late, my favourite is the one set up (literally but also with slang sense of a set-up) by Alexander of Abonutichos. It is amazing what could be achieved with a pet snake (python, actually). The mechanism of the oracle is well known. During a fixed period of only nine days a year, suppliants would come to ask for a verdict on a proposed action. The Priestess sat on a tripod over a fissure and would lapse into an trance, induced by inhaled vapours. Whilst in the trance, the Priestess made an utterance of sorts, which was interpreted by attendant priests. The oracle was, of course, open to manipulation, i.e. alright, straight out bribery (Herodotus [hence cited as Hdt.], 5.62-63.1; 6.66.2-3). The traditional practice, it seems, was that the Priestess was a women of mature years (i.e. more than fifty years old), chosen from among the local women, who held the position for life. Chastity was enforced.56 The only cinematic treatment, I know of, is to be found in the execrable film, 300 (dir. Zack Snyder, 2003).
All dates are AD, unless otherwise specified See: M Andronicos, Delphi, Ekdotike Athenon, 2002; M Dubin, Greece: Athens and the Mainland, Eyewitness Travel Guides, Dorling Kindersley, 2003, pp. 228-231. 56 Andronicos, 2003, p. 10. 55
In his film, Zack Snyder presents a somewhat alternate version. His priestess is far from a woman of mature years. Instead, she is highly nubile. Strangely she does not wear the peplos, woven from wool, the standard clothing for Greek women. Instead, she wears some diaphanous tissue. Unfortunately, as she lapses into the trance, her gyrations cause the pins fastening her gown at the shoulders to fail and it gradually falls away from her lithesome body. A further complication is that the priestess forgot to wear any underwear The responses of the oracle were legendary for their obscurity. I offer three examples; two from Greek history and one from Roman. Croesus of Lydia, when faced by the emergent Cyrus of Persia, sought the advice of the oracle. Told, that if he faced Cyrus, he would destroy a great kingdom, Croesus was encouraged to oppose Cyrus. Unfortunately, the oracle mean his great kingdom not that of Cyrus (Hdt., 1.53.3). During the Persian invasion of Greece, 480-479 BC, the oracle’s support for the Greek cause was, at best, uncertain. When the Athenians sought the advice of the oracle, they were told to put trust in their wooden walls (Hdt., 7.140-142). Did the oracle mean the wooden palisade which protected the Acropolis? Those who so thought perished (Hdt., 8.51.2), Themistokles had a different interpretation and the rest is, as they say, history. In about 509 BC, Tarquinius Superbus, worried by a strange prodigy, sent two of his sons to consult the oracle. They were accompanied by their cousin, L. Junius Brutus. The young Tarquins posed their own question to the oracle as to which would succeed their father. The oracular response was that whosoever first kissed their mother, would do so. While the Tarquins drew lots as to who would kiss their mother first on their return to Rome, Brutus pretended to slip and fell to the ground and kissed the earth, mother of us all (Livy. 1.56). In case, you are unfamiliar with early Roman history, the age of kings at Rome ended in 509 BC, with the foundation of the Republic with Brutus as one of the two consuls (Livy, 2.2). Appropriately, the last oracle was given to the emperor, Julian (361-363) in 362: Tell ye the King: the carven hall is fallen in decay; Apollo hath no chapel left, no prophesying bay, No talking spring, The stream is dry and had so much to say. Andronicos, 2003, p. 9. Julian attempted to reverse the conversion of the empire to Christianity. However, his short reign was unable to halt the inexorable march to the total triumph of Christianity, along with the concomitant side effect of the change from the relatively wide ranging intellectual curiosity of the ancient world to the blinkered and cloistered mindset of medieval Christianity. My only visit to Delphi was in April, 2003. Greece’s preparations for the 2004 Olympics were well underway and we could notice definite improvements since our first visit in1989. Also, the invasion of Iraq by the so-called Coalition of the Willing kept crowds down. I checked with a couple of motoring websites and the journey from Athens (Athinai) to Delphi (Delfoi) should take about two and a half hours, the distance being about 180 kms. My recollection is that the roads were quite good. However, because of the reason stated above, there was virtually no tourist traffic. This is not
Arachova: Main Street
an excessive distance by Australian standards but I heartily recommend an early start. Delphi is not the only gem, which awaits you. There is also Arachova. Arachova is a gem of a town, the main access point for the ski fields at Fterolaka, only 26 kms away. Amalia had a couple of stops to make. Some of her suppliers lived in the town and she needed to stock up on local wine and cheese. As far as we could see, all of Arachova’s buildings were made of the same coloured stone. The location of the town is quite dramatic as it nestles into the side of a steeply sloping ridge. Quaint laneways lead to narrow cobbled back streets. Flights of steps facilitate pedestrian access to these streets. The low side of own drops suddenly away into a ravine. Arachova is the last town on the road to Delfoi (the modern town), just past the site of Delphi. We drove into Delfoi but did not stop, merely using the town to turn around since the road by Delphi is a little narrow. Driving from Arachova, apart from the brooding mass of Mt Parnasssus, the first thing to be seen is the sanctuary of Athena Pronoia (Athena, who thinks ahead [in Latin, she would be called Athena Providens]). Unusual for a Greek site, the sanctuary building was round, perhaps because the site drops away suddenly.57 Athena’s temple is probably the most picture post card perfect building on the site and was featured on our entry ticket to the site. As I have said, we were visiting Greece at the height of the preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games. Many tourist venues were either totally shut or had limited access, The Museum at Delphi fitted into the latter category. Apart from the omphalos near the entry58, the only room open was that housing the famous charioteer.59 Fortunately, I managed to take a few photos before we were told photography was not allowed. Delphi is essentially a vertical rather than horizontal site – steep climbs cannot be avoided. You have been warned. However, for those with the perseverance and fitness, the climb is well rewarded at the top. You enter the main site through the ruins of the agora (“market place” and begin your journey along the Sacred Way , lined with ruins, as it The Charioteer zigzags its way up the slope until you reach the summit. Unless you have detailed knowledge of the site, there are very few ruins which you can identify. Andronicos (2003, pp. 30-31) does supply a reasonable detailed plan of the sanctuary of Apollo; however, he does admit the complexity of the site (pp, 15, 16), So, I will confine myself to three significant buildings. On the sacred way, you pass by the northern stoa and approach the Temple of Apollo. Apart from the terrace it is built upon, little remains of the Temple except for a stand of columns.The 57
Andronicos, 2003, pp. 12-14 (discussion and site plan), 36-39 (photos); Dubin, 2003, p. 230. The extant omphalos is a Hellenistic or Roman copy (Andronicos, 2003, p.The 49).Temple of Apollo 59 Andronicos, 2003, pp. 24-27 (discussion), 72-73 (photos) 58
existing Temple is the third on the site and dates from the 4th century BC, built to replace that of the 7th century BC (destroyed in 548 BC) and that erected in the 6th century BC by the Athenian family, the Alkmaionids, but destroyed by fire in 373 BC. The Temple contained the Delphic oracle with the adyton (“inner shrine”) with the circular tripod and next to it the omphalos.60 The sacred enclosure gives you access to the theatre, which is worth looking at, and if you climb up from the enclosure,,,the statue of Dionysus here is a Knidian dedication. This Stadium is tge highest point of the city; it was made from rock like most of the Parnassos rock, until Herod of Athens refitted it with Pentelic stone. Pausanias,10.32.1. We passed by the Temple and came to the Theatre. As was the case with Greek theatres, use was made of the natural slope. The audience in the Theatre would have had a splendid view of the Temple of Apollo and the ravine in the background. As is obvious from the photos, the path began to rise steeply. This is where perseverance and fitness have to kick in,61 Upon reaching the top of the climb, you are The Theatre surprised to come across the Stadium. The Stadium is one of the best preserved in the country. A stadion was originally a measure of distance for foot races. Once buildings were erected in which to house the races, the name was applied to the building. This one is nearly 200 m long and partly cut into the slope. It would have held about 7000 spectators, who gathered every four years for the Pythian Games. The existing structure dates from Roman times,62 All that is left is the long climb down to where your car is parked and a speedy return to Athens.
The Stadium from the Starter’s End. 60
Viewers of Joanna Lumley’s Greek Odyssey, episode 1, screened on ABC1 (Sydney) on Tuesday, June 26, 2012, will have seen the location of the tripod and the fissure from which the vapours emanated in The Temple of Apollo, 61 Andronicos, 2003, p. 48. 62 Dubin, 2003, p. 230.
Books, Life-long Learning and Serendipity in the Digital Age Australian Catholic University Graduation Address Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre 22 May 2012 Edward Duyker
Pro-chancellor, distinguished guests, colleagues, graduands, family and friends. I am very honoured to give this address this morning. The invitation arrived not long after my eldest son received his doctorate in chemistry at the University of Sydney. That event provoked family discussion about graduation addresses, as a genre. In the United States, they are called ‘commencement addresses’, because they herald a new chapter in the lives of graduands. In the wake of the death of Steve Jobs, in October last year, ABC Radio National broadcast Jobs’ June 2005 ‘commencement address’ to graduands at Stanford University. In it, he recounted how his working-class adoptive parents kept a promise to his birth-mother to send him to ‘college’ and how he repaid their generosity by dropping-out after only six months. I suspect that such a story was not quite what some at Stanford University wanted to hear! Jobs, however, told the assembled graduands how he then attended a calligraphy and typography course. He also reflected on how that chance opportunity later profoundly influenced the design of the beautiful fonts on the Apple Macintosh computer. I will return, later, to the theme of chance in life-long learning, but Steve Jobs’ remarks set me thinking about calligraphy and typography. I have to say that I am particularly grateful to ACU’s own accomplished medieval and Latin scholar, Dr Jennifer Carpenter, for rekindling my interest in medieval and renaissance manuscripts held in Australian libraries–and there are at least 264 such manuscripts here including copies of Biblical and ancient Greek texts.63 It seems to me that the printing revolution that Johannes Gutenberg unleashed in the mid-15th century has not diminished the importance and even the sacredness of such manuscripts in our eyes. Similarly the digital revolution that Steve Jobs helped unleash has not diminished the respect that we have for the printed book. Although my wife Susan doesn’t agree with me, I think it is most unlikely that we will one day swear oaths of office or evidence on a ‘Kindle’ or ‘iPad’ after clicking icons on the screen for Bible, Qur’an or ‘other’! We still feel a sense of tragic loss at the fate of the great Library of Alexandria in antiquity. We remain horrified by the book-burnings of the Inquisition and of the Nazis. Most tolerant civilised people are very uneasy, if not outraged, at the actions of the Qur’an-burning Pastor Terry Jones in Gainsville, Florida. I’m often reminded of the warning of Heinrich Heine in 1821: ‘Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings’.64 Auschwitz soon followed Kristallnacht. Books are part of the memory of humanity. According to UNESCO there are now over 1.8 million book titles published around the world each year, with the vast majority still printed on paper. Nevertheless, the digital resources on the Internet are now staggering. Google 63
Manion, M. M., & Vines, V. F., Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts in Australian Collections, Thames and Hudson, New York, 1984, p. 9. 64 In his play Almansor, which makes reference to the burning of the Qur’an by the Spanish Inquisition.
Books alone has scanned 20 million of a projected 110 million unique titles. Anyone who does serious research these days knows that the Internet and the traditional library are a very potent combination. Last year I published a monograph on the Franciscan friar Père Receveur who died in Sydney in February 1788 during the visit of Lapérouse’s expedition. He was both the first scientist and the first Catholic priest buried in Australia. It was thanks to Google Books, which had scanned the little-known Annales franc-comtoises, published in Besançon, eastern France, in 1865, that I found long-forgotten extracts from Receveur’s correspondence and which I have now translated into English for the first time. While there is rarely a week that goes by without me downloading one or more books (usually 18th- or 19th-century), I have to say that I don’t really enjoy reading lengthy texts on the screen. I am not alone. Even Bill Gates admits that he prefers printed paper to the computer screen. He is on record as saying that when a text is ‘over . . . four or five pages’, he prints it out ‘to carry around . . . and annotate’.65 Unlike the e-book, the p-book (as some now call it) needs no batteries or power cord. In centuries to come it will not require software translation to remain readable. For the life learner–and that is what I urge you all to be–nothing beats the pleasure of the ‘browse function’ of a book, in an armchair by the fire. The book is a superbly efficient device. There is nothing to be switched on or off. It never freezes, crashes or has to be rebooted. Even a child can use it. Though, to be fair, like a Kindle or iPad, it does not perform well when dropped in a toilet bowl or bath. However, when it is in such an unfortunate state, it is much more easily recycled than its electronic counterpart! The Kindle, the iPad and the traditional printed codex facilitate the telling of stories, but the printed book tells other stories that the electronic device usually can’t tell–unless it bears a digital facsimile of a particular person’s book. What I am getting at is serendipitous tales of ownership, provenance and annotated scholarship. Some of you might have read Geraldine Brook’s novel People of the Book, which offers an imagined multi-voiced historical tale of the creation and survival of the Sarajevo Haggadah, an actual illuminated Passover prayer text created by Sephardic Jews in Barcelona in the mid-14th century. It is known to have survived the Inquisition, the Nazis and the Ustaše (thanks to a Muslim cleric) and more recently the Bosnian Civil War. Books frequently enclose surprises between their pages, often improvised bookmarks. Sometimes the enclosures are more deliberate. Just three weeks ago, I found two letters written by the mother of Diana Princess of Wales66 in a book I had been bequeathed eight years earlier. And one of the letters alluded to the very manuscript that had formed the basis for the book itself: an early-19th century journal67 that I had used as a source for my biography of François Péron. Sometimes the enclosures are entirely by chance. I am reminded of the experience of Timothy Ryback, who, in 2001, while studying Hitler’s private library, found ‘a wiry inch-long black’ moustache hair in a book on Berlin by Max Osborn–ironically a Jewish author in the Führer’s collection.68
Bill Gates quoted by Robert Darnton in The Case for Books, Public Affairs, New York, 2009, p. 69. Frances Shand Kydd (1936–2004); her husband Peter owned the original manuscript of Pierre Milius’ journal. 67 Milius, P. B. Récit du voyage aux terres australes par Pierre Bernard Milius, second sur le "Naturaliste" dans l'expédition Baudin, (1800-1804); transcribed and edited by Jacqueline Bonnemains, Pascale Hauguel, Société havraise d'études diverses, Muséum d'histoire naturelle du Havre, Le Havre, 1987. 68 Timothy Ryback, Hitler’s Private Library, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2008, p. 27. 66
But if I have a favourite, albeit apocryphal, tale to illustrate my point about the other stories books tell, it comes from Tal Bonham. His is a delightful vignette about a rare book collector who meets a man who has just disposed of a Bible printed by ‘Somebody named Guten-something’. The bibliophile gasps and tells him of a recent multi-million dollar auction price for a Gutenberg Bible. Surprisingly, the man is unmoved. No, he says, my copy wouldn’t have been worth much: ‘Someone named Martin Luther scribbled all over it’!69 I have already made reference to the word ‘serendipity’ in this address. We use it often for the faculty for (or the instance of) making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident. No historian can do without it! The word has a delightful provenance. It has its origins in a story written at the beginning of the 14th century by the Indian Sufi mystic Amīr Khusrow. He was the author of a story entitled ‘The Three Princes of Serendip’ which deals with the recovery of a missing camel. Serendib is, in fact, the old Arabic/Persian name for Sri Lanka. However it was Horace Walpole who coined the word ‘serendipity’ in a letter to his friend Sir Horace Mann, the British Consul in Florence, on 28 January 1754; this was after remembering the fairy tale and the characters ‘who were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of’.70 I want to end this address with a plea that you continue to learn and to nurture your intellects through serendipity. Buying books on-line can be very convenient, particularly when you have a specific need, desire or plan of study, but there is nothing like the serendipity of learning by browsing and being surprised, tantalised and taken on unexpected intellectual journeys in libraries, bookshops, Lifeline book sales, or the unexpected bibliographic treasures that can be found in the digital nebulae. Ultimately, like Steve Jobs’ calligraphy course, you won’t know for some time what the seminal influences have been or, as the poet Goethe put it when reflecting on his own youth: ‘understand the strategy until after the campaign’.71 May you all enjoy the exciting adventures and surprises that life-long learning has to offer. And, for good measure, may you share that wonder and discovery with others, particularly children.
Edward Duyker is Adjunct Professor of the Australian Catholic University and Honorary Senior Lecturer in the School of Languages and Cultures, University of Sydney.
Tal D. Bonham, The Treasury of Clean Jokes, Broadman Press, Nashville, 1981. The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford, Richard Bentley, London, MDCCCLVII , vol. 2, Letter no. 374, p. 365. 71 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Dichtung und Wahrheit (1833), part iv, book 20. 70
2011 Film Reviews – Michael Cooke
THE PICK OF 2011 Here are my ruminations on some of the movies that have flickered across our screens in 2011. It is in no way comprehensive or definitive, but extracted from what I have been able to watch, endure and remember. BLOCKKBUSTERS There were no blockbusters which, in terms of spectacle, technical innovation and commercial success, compared to Inception (2010) or Avatar (2009). But out of the confusion of excessive special effects, sequels and a penchant for cinematic recreations of every super hero ever conceived, some films did stand out. Despite its weaknesses, Kenneth Branagh’s Thor (2011) gave us spectacle with thrills and spills and a dash of gravitas. But the two that stand out for originality, economy in the use of special effects, genuine thrills, spectacle and suspense were Neil Berger’s Limitless (2011) and Duncan Jones Source Code (2011). Both films were graced with charismatic leads72 who play fallible characters. They helped us suspend our incredulity with regard to the films’ premises, and did much to make the climactic moments convincing. THE MOTHER COUNTRY The Conservatives came into office in Britain in the middle of the greatest financial crisis in living memory. As Conservatives are prone to do, they proceeded to savagely cut expenditure on the poor whilst leaving the tax privileges of the rich intact. They also wound up the UK Film Council, whose support was crucial for independent film making in Britain. It happened at the time when we were getting excellent films like The King’s Speech (2010), many of them financed by the Board. Two films that were highly praised for their central performances were Phylida Lloyd’s Iron Lady (2011)73 and Simon Curtis’s My Week with Marilyn (2011). Meryl Streep’s version of Thatcher and Michelle Williams’s incarnation of Marilyn Monroe were, in my opinion, grossly overpraised. Although they put on screen impeccable impersonations, they gave us no insights into the human beings they were portraying. Accents and mannerisms do not a great performance make. There was an instructive contrast between Michelle Williams’ performance and that of co-star Kenneth Branagh playing Laurence Oliver. Although he does not look like Oliver, Branagh gives us the pomposity, vulnerability, ambition and the talent of the man. It is all in a look, an inflection, a certain modulation of performance. Shame (2011), Steven McQueen’s disturbing portrait of sexual addiction, was brave in its depiction of compulsive sexual activity and an obsession for pornography but was drained of character, empathy and coherence. There was compensation for the film’s flaws in Fassbinder’s performance and Mulligan’s touching fragility. New York in winter never looked lovelier and the whole enterprise was enhanced by Glen Gould’s renditions of Bach. Lynne Ramsey’s gradually revelatory version of Lionel Shriver’s epistolary novel, We need to talk about Kevin (2011), was poignant and disturbing. Tilda Swinton takes the weight of the drama on her slender shoulders, making almost palpable her inability to love or even connect with her son. She is ably supported by John C. Reilly as her bewildered husband. Ezra Miller, with his expressionless handsome face, portrays their deeply disturbed son. 72
Bradley Cooper and Jake Gyllenhaal. This film glosses over the more controversial aspects of her character and career. In its place we get a heroic Thatcher in old age fighting loneliness and senility. 73
Tyrannosaur (2011), Paddy Considine’s bruising film on male working-class violence, was given a tragic heft by Peter Mullian in the central role, the vulnerability and kindness of Oliva Colman and the hypocrisy that pervades Eddie Marsan’s performance as her husband. Andrea Arnold’s revisionist Wuthering Heights (2011) takes the empire into the heart of the Yorkshire moors, giving us a new slant on a tragic story. Though not wholly to my taste, it is a fascinating retelling of a classic. Terence Davies brings his unique take to Terence Rattigan’s old chestnut The Deep Blue Sea (2011)74 giving us a realistic view of the limited choices women had in those early post-war years and the polite cruelty meted out to them for transgressing. The film is enhanced by Rachel Weisz’s intelligent and moving performance and an understated and poignant one from Simon Russell Beale, playing her bewildered husband. DOCUMENTARIES Interesting documentaries continued to grace our screens, the irritating exception being Casey Alfeck’s fake documentary I’m still here (2010) which purported to be about Joaquin Phoenix’s career as a rap artist. Its mocking tone, self-importance, obvious fakery and post-modernist framework made it a complete bore and will hopefully deter any cashed-up Hollywood brat from exorcising his inner Scorsese. Meanwhile the real thing was building on his musical credentials after his sojourn with the Rolling Stones75 by tackling the shy Beatle in George Harrison – Living in a Material World (2011). It was long and interesting but not as poignant or important as it wanted to be, as it showed little that was new and was more than coy about the darker aspects of the subject’s persona. Wim Wenders’ Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011) was exhilarating, beautiful and moving and showed a timeless human need to transcend the material life and its limits and turn it into art. Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job (2010) put the ideological cheerleaders of unfettered capitalism under the spotlight, exposing their moral and intellectual vacuity. Asif Kapadia’s Senna (2010) made the sport of Formula One not only interesting but as tragic as any classical epic by skilful editing and giving a universal dimension to the rivalry between Alain Prost and Aryton Senna. Prost represents the consummate company man, a skilful driver and masterful networker, whilst Senna represents the romance of speed, with driving skills, especially on a rain-soaked racing track, which are spiritual in intensity. IN THE LAND OF OZ Down under we were making films that were either wonderful or woeful. One of the most woeful and morally reprehensible was Julia Leigh’s debut film Sleeping Beauty (2011) in which a young girl becomes an object (i.e. victim) of the gaze and ministrations of a group of elderly men. We at no stage get any understanding of who this young woman is. Played with studied vacuity by Emily Browning, the central character’s body is the object of the camera’s prurient and endless caress. Red Dog (2011), ably directed by Kriv Stenders, was a crowd pleaser with its Oz rock laden soundtrack, beautiful landscape and loveable larrikins. It banished for just a while the darkness that permeated Wake in Fright (1971), made over 40 years ago. Fred Schepisi’s version of Patrick White’s The Eye of the Storm (2011) was the prestige film of the year. Judy Morris’s screenplay wisely dispensed with the dense prose and left the human drama unadorned. Charlotte Rampling, Judy Davis and Geoffrey Rush were more than fine playing the malicious self-centred leads. They were ably supported by Helen Morse and Colin Friels, the latter enlivening the gloom with a satirical impersonation of Bob Hawke. The film was humanised most of all by Alexandra Schepisi’s down to earth performance as one of the nurses and by John Gaden as the family’s faithful solicitor. It is hard to play a put upon character with charm and feeling; 74 75
A very Anglo-Saxon version of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Shine a Light (2008) .
Gaden does this by imbuing his character with the grace of good manners and the yearning of unrequited love. The two standout films of the year were Jim Loach’s Oranges and Sunshine (2010) and Justin Kurzel’s heartbreaking and bleak Snowtown (2011). Oranges and Sunshine dealt with the forced and illegal transportation of children from the British Isles to orphanages in Australia and Canada. Their exploitation as cheap labour and the sexual and emotional maltreatment wreaked on them by such institutions as the Catholic Church are handled not with hysteria but with honesty. Hugo Weaving inhabits his role as one of the victims, with pain, hope and endurance etched on his face and in his voice. Emily Watson gives a sterling performance as the social worker who uncovers the tragedy and tries to rectify it. Snowtown is one of the finest films I have seen, a genuine masterpiece. Daniel Henshall, who plays the psychopath, is a study in repressed violence. He hides his unspeakable intent in a wry smile, a bon mot and faux concern. His protégé and victim is played with aching grace by the newcomer Lucas Pittway. The film depicts one of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of neglected towns and suburbs across the country which are the victims of our never-ending experiment with economic rationalism. The film depicts the lost lives of these townships with eloquence. Most of the violence is off-screen but when depicted it is unbearable - as it should be. An Australian version of Candide guided by a psychotic Pangloss. STARS AND BARS Kristen Wiig’s Bridesmaids (2011)76 proved that female comics can be just as crude and funny as their male counterparts. They were less loathsome than Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler, not as prone to buffoonery and capable of making a half decent film. Mike Mills’ Beginners (2011) is never as affecting as it thinks it is, but has a lovely performance from Christopher Plummer, whose character discovers the joys of gay love in his late seventies. Bennett Miller’s Moneyball (2011) fulfils the seemingly impossible task of making baseball and probability theory palatable and even suspenseful. Tate Taylor’s The Help (2011) brings to mind the liberal race lessons that Kramer and Poitier conducted in the 1950s and 1960s77 and like those films it is entertaining, suspenseful and, in spite of its shortcomings, moving as well as didactic. Terence Malick’s indescribable Tree of Life (2011) gave us a lyrical examination of a dysfunctional family linked, I think, to the creation of the universe and its decline. The images of the beginning of life on earth were breathtaking and the performances of Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and company were impeccable, occasionally poignant and sometimes times brutal. The detachment of the director stopped us from being fully involved with the drama. The four standout films from our imperial masters were Nicholas Winding’s Drive (2011), Sean Durkin’s understated Martha Macy May and Marlene (2011), Alexander Payne’s The Descendants (2011) and George Clooney’s masterful political drama The Ides of March (2011). Drive is a dark, violent and cool thriller that is reminiscent of the American cinema of the 1970s and Jean Pierre Melville’s Gallic take on film noir. It was mostly shot at night and from virtually the first frame we are on an unstoppable ride to its violent and tragic climax. Ryan Reynolds has none of the detachment of a McQueen or the bland almost blank intensity of a young Alain Delon, but he is a capable guide to the mayhem imploding around him. Martha Macy May and Marlene is a slow-burn thriller about a damaged teenager, played memorably by Elizabeth Olsen. John Hawkes in a small role is able to convey the understated menace behind his affable persona that is alas an all too common character trait amongst the male members of our elite. 76 77
The director is Paul Feig’s but his role is minimal compared to the writer and star Ms Wiig. The Defiant Ones (1958) and Guess Who’s coming to Dinner (1967)
Alexander Payne’s The Descendants (2011) is a lovely and moving tragic-comedy set in Hawaii. George Clooney leaves behind his movie star persona and gives us a lovely portrayal of a decent and fallible man caught up in filial dramas beyond his control and sometimes his comprehension. A delightful little film. Clooney directed and co-wrote the icy thriller about American politics – The Ides of March (2011). He effortlessly parleys his screen persona to play a morally flawed and ambitious Democratic Senator who like Obama brings a radical message of hope, coated in the sugar of inspirational platitudes. It contains a brilliant performance within its bleak heart by Evan Rachel Wood, who plays a tragic and idealistic supporter of the Senator. It shows how American politics is corrupted by the power games and personality traits that supersede policy, the need for money, the compromises with the corporate sector, and the professionals who hover around a candidate like blow flies around a corpse. FILMS WITH SUBTITLES Lars von Trier, like the expatriate Barrie Koskie, is an ‘enfant terrible’ who even in middle age puts on spectacles that shock and entrance us. After a while one begins to wonder if there is anything underneath all that aesthetic shock and awe. Lars is the cinematic heir to the late and much missed Andrei Tarkovsky and like him is a master of mood, stillness and beauty. Unlike Tarkovsky, he celebrates nihilism.78 This is apparent in the opening scene of his malignant AntiChrist (2009). A couple are making love to the aching beautiful aria of Handel’s79 whilst their son accidentally falls to his death from an open window in their apartment. He frames the film in a beautiful and austere palette of black and white; the lighting, acting, sets and photography are a joy to behold, marred only by his perverse pleasure in degrading both actors and audience. He entrances again with the opening montage in Melancholia (2011). We are given an intimation of things to come in the use of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. Earth is about to collide with an enormous heavenly body. The landscape is in flux and Kirsten Dunst’s face is framed amidst this chaos like a figure from a Flemish altar piece. It ends in nothing: not a bang nor a whimper but an interminable orgy of banality. Vietnamese French director Tran Anh Hung’s80 movie version of Haruki Murkam’s famous novel Norwegian Wood (2010) is beautiful and touching. It is only marred by the characters’ emotions which should be much darker than the feyness that is on display. Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In (2011) is an energetic and entertaining mix of film noir and horror. The script and Antonio Banderas’s performance seemed emotionally underdone for the melodrama; nevertheless, it is a perverse pleasure. Some films catch you by surprise, like Xavier Beauvios’s Of Gods and Men (2010). It is set in the near past in Algiers during the bloody war between the Algerian military and their Islamist opponents, borne of the former’s refusal to allow the latter to take power in an election they had resoundingly won. We gradually enter into the life of a number of elderly monks: their rituals, liturgy, chanting, work, their interaction with the villagers. Gradually their life becomes impossible as the military and the insurgents bring the war to their doorstep. The choices they make and the price they pay are moving to behold. Michael Lonsdale and Lambeth Wilson give wonderful, understated performances, full of warmth and humanity. Denis Villeneuve’s Canadian drama Incendies (2010) looks at the tribal and religious fault lines of Lebanon. It has its melodramatic moments but is graced with lovely performances from the leads, in particular Lubana Azabal as the mother. Again it is about love, humanity and the price we pay for our actions.
See the epiphany at the end of The Stalker (1979) and the joy and beauty in the closing moments of Andrei Rublev (1966). ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ from the opera Rinaldo. 80 Hung is a wonderful and graceful director who works in the humanist tradition of a Ray. The Scent of Green Papaya (1993) was a gentle look at a Vietnamese family. Cyclo (1995), like its earlier namesake, is about the harsh life of a family in post-war Vietnam. 79
THE JOYS OF WATCHING There is no simple or single reason for liking a film - a script, performance, music, and how one feels on that day will play their part. The films that follow show how non-natives can capture beautifully and sometimes movingly an essence of another country’s culture. It took a Scandinavian to remake Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor (2011), a very English thriller set during the Cold War. A thriller that engages you emotionally and intellectually with a bygone era was brought to life by a gifted group of actors: Gary Oldman as Smiley, strongly supported by Colin Firth, Mark Strong and others. Canadian David Cronenberg unlike von Trier has gradually tailored his love of the macabre and the unpalatable to more humanistic projects. His vastly superior remake of The Fly (1986) became a morality tale imbued with a strong romantic sensibility. His latest venture A Dangerous Method (2011) takes the famous correspondence and falling out of Freud and Jung and breathes new life into it. It is blessed by an intelligent screenplay by Christopher Hamilton and graced by a strong and convincing performance by Vito Mortensen. He plays the uptight, righteous and reticent Freud. There is also a deliciously decadent cameo by Vincent Cassel. Jung as played by the ever present Michael Fassbinder is a spoilt much indulged man and prone to giving into his urges is overshadowed by the towering presence of Mortensen. The only thing marring the film (for me) was the overwrought and twitchy performance of Keira Knightley. An outsider breathed new life into the much-filmed Jane Eyre (2011). Cary Fukunaga changed the narrative flow, emphasising some elements and barely touched on others. The freshness of this approach was enhanced by the photography and the acting of Mia Waskikowska. Marin Scorsese’s Hugo (2011) is a wonder and joy, its mastery evident from the opening sweeping shots of a fairy tale Paris. It is about the magic of early French cinema – ironically, an analogue film enhanced with digital effects, filled with the joy of constructing and repairing beautiful mechanical objects like a clock or creating magic on screen. It deserves all the plaudits it got. If you are French what sort of film can you make in Hollywood? A silent one of course. This is what Michel Hazanavicius did with his delightful The Artist (2011), a delightful take on silent films, and genuine in its affection. Its mixture of the charming, funny, sad and balletic reminds one of Chaplin at his peak. It is blessed with an absurdly charming performance by Jean Dujardin who in some scenes is reminiscent of Douglas Fairbanks senior; in others he effortless channels the lithe frame and handsome profile of Gene Kelly from Singing the Rain (1952). I dare anybody not to fall in love with the film. Woody Allen, it seems was below his best in his last few films, had everybody fall in love with him again when he made Midnight in Paris (2011). From the opening shots with Sidney Bechet’s clarinet, ushering us into Paris in all its summery glory, what is there not to love?81 Mercifully Woody does not play the wistful, ineffectual romantic lead - he leaves that job in the more than capable hands of Owen Wilson. He creates the perfect Paris of the mind and heart, contrasting it with the rich and philistine Americans who are blind to the wonders, both intellectual and visual, which are around them. A near perfect picture.
Such is life July 201
The film is reminiscent though not derivative of the praise-poem he made to New York – Manhattan (1979).
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