Warwick Thornton Selects: Samson and Delilah + Paris, Texas
with introductions by Warwick Thornton
Samson and Delilah (2009)
A pair of teenaged lovers take flight and search for hope in Warwick Thornton’s unflinching portrait of life in a remote Indigenous community.
On a regular morning in Alice Springs, Samson (Rowan McNamara) awakens and reaches for the numbing fumes of petrol. The silent, young Indigenous man dreams of playing in his brother’s reggae band and has his eye on Delilah (Marissa Gibson), the girl next door. He shadows her as she goes about her business, most of which involves caring for her grandmother. As Samson draws closer, a sudden series of events propel the pair into a state of limbo on the outskirts of big town life.
One of the most celebrated pieces of contemporary Australian realism, Samson and Delilah was shot entirely on 35mm film, lending Thornton’s cinematography a candid, raw quality, as reflected in the astute director’s choice to employ natural or existing light and keep the number of production crew small. There are no cranes, no tracks, no tricks – not even a gaffer. Complementing this unaffected cinematic style is a cast of mostly untrained actors; the film’s remarkable leads Rowan McNamara and Marissa Gibson had no prior acting experience and have not pursued acting since.
Samson and Delilah premiered at the 4th Adelaide Film Festival and made its international premiere at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival where Thornton won the Camera D’Or.
This is for me one of the most wonderful films this country has ever produced. It is exquisitely made, it's full of discipline. There's not a spare moment in it.
Paris, Texas (1984)
Wim Wenders explores loss and renewal against the landscapes of America in his Palme D’or classic starring Harry Dean Stanton.
Travis Clay Henderson (Harry Dean Stanton) emerges from the South Texas desert after four years spent wandering in an existential no man’s land. “You look like forty miles of rough road”, his brother Walt (Dean Stockwell) remarks, concerned and relieved to be reunited with the sibling he had given up for dead. Back in LA, Travis picks up the fragile threads of his relationship with his seven-year-old son, Hunter. Haunted by the absence of the boy’s mother, Jane (Nastassja Kinski), who lives “in a galaxy far, far away” (according to Hunter), the two head to Houston to find her.
Wim Wenders’ Palme d’Or winner from 1984 is arguably the German director’s finest cinematic achievement. His frequent collaborator, Director of Photography Robby Müller, (Alice in the Cities, The American Friend) creates a stunning visual landscape of sun-lit exteriors and reflective interiors that seamlessly coalesce with the narrative driven by Harry Dean Stanton’s gentle, affecting performance as a man slowly reassembling himself.
[Director of Photography Robby Müller]… gives the story a surface polish that hints of Edward Hopper and Georgia O’Keefe Americana paintings. Some images are positively breathtaking.
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