Van Diemens Land


This 2009 Australian movie flopped in it’s homeland (not surprisingly).

By portraying the barbaric, gruesome yet strangely endearing nature of the early convict groups to arrive in 1822, it ran far too close to the bone for mainstream Australian tastes.

Razor sharp directing by Jonathon Van der Heiden, it is renowned as one of the most realistic cannibal movies ever made.

He was nearly beaten to death during making the film, walking home through Brunswick when eight teenagers with clubs decided to “beat the shit out of us for no reason whatsoever and I nearly died”.

His approach to this highly controversial part of Australian history is similar to my own. There was nothing glorious about being sent to the other side of the planet to work as slave labour for a so-called “colonist of the British Empire”.

This is what Van der Heiden had to say about the making of the film :

“I wanted initially to alienate the Australian audience to this picture perfect Australian wilderness. To these convicts they would never have seen anything like this before in their lives. They came in from the rolling green hills of England, Ireland and Scotland which have been cultivated for centuries, but this is completely untamed rain forest, untouched by man. So it would have been terrifying for these men, hence why they keep calling it the inferno or hell – because it did contain the unknown. For them it was the lost world and they were terrified by it and so I wanted us to see it though their eyes…We wanted the wilderness to be bleak and terrifying and I think by tearing the colour out it does that and it also takes you into a different world immediately, like you are going back in time and seeing footage of Australia’s colonial past. And also with pulling the colour out like that, it does make these convicts like the ghosts of Australia’s past in a way, walking through our forests.”

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