Beach in Cinema

I have been really lucky to be a part of a new(ish) publication: Filmurbia!: screening the suburbs, edited by David Forrest, Graeme Harper, and Jonathan Rayner and released in May this year.

It’s the third volume in their Cinema and Landscape collection, a series I have followed with avid interest during my PhD studies. Therefore, it was really exciting to be able to have my work included in this book, and I must thank Jonathan for his gentle yet rigorous reviewing and editing process! My chapter is titled “The Gritty Urban: The Australian Beach as City Periphery in Cinema” – unsurprisingly, it’s continuing my interest in the Australian beach.

This chapter was an opportunity for me to discuss some well known films that feature short but catalytic beach scenes (Two Hands, 1998; Little Fish, 2005) alongside older but more beach-centric film noirs (Goodbye Paradise, 1983The Empty Beach, 1985). In these instances, the beaches involved – Bondi Beach and Surfers Paradise – seems to be more like an extension of the city rather than an isolated wilderness (in comparison to a film like The Long Weekend, for instance).

A screenshot from Goodbye Paradise

A screenshot from Goodbye Paradise, featuring Surfers Paradise in Queensland. [source: Australian Screen]

To a certain degree, these films also all challenge the very idealistic, beautiful image of Australian beaches that are more common in tourism. While Bondi Beach looks stunning in Two Hands, for example, it is also the site of the main narrative catalyst: a theft. In fact, all these films feature crime in some fashion, which is arguably more common in urban texts and certainly not what we might associate with the glossy, sunny beaches on our postcards!

Filmurbia! was published through Palgrave Macmillan and is available to purchase here. You can find the citation for my chapter on my publications list. The book also features some excellent chapters that cover really diverse terrain – both figuratively and literally! – including a great analysis of Australian suburbs by Jonathan Rayner for other Oz Film people out there.

NB: Unfortunately in Australia, there was no DVD release of Goodbye Paradise and The Empty Beach. I had to source VHS copies, which have definitely seen better days!