Ann Turner – Celia (1989)

An imaginative and somewhat disturbed young girl fantasizes about evil creatures and other oddities to mask her insecurities while growing up in rural Australia.

Review by Dennis Grunes:

In her twenties, Adelaide-born Ann Turner took the top prize at the Créteil International Women’s Film Festival for her absorbing, intermittently terrifying debut feature from Australia, Celia. Celia (Rebecca Smart, convincing), when the film begins, is eight; she discovers her cherished grandmother dead in bed one morning, and this sparks nightmares of some enormous monster—all we see is one of its claws—trying to enter during the night through her bedroom window.

But Celia’s individual fear is also fed by the time, 1957-8, and place: newsreels (at the movies that Celia periodically attends) reveal the onslaught of rabbits that threatens farmers’ crops; anti-Communist hysteria is afoot. “They’re bad people,” Celia’s father says about the next-door neighbors, whom he brands (inexactly) as Communists, and whose children Ray Carmichael forbids his daughter to play with. (She plays with her friends anyway; meanwhile, Ray himself is attracted to Alice Tanner, the mother of the verboten playmates, but she resists his overtures.) Patricia, Celia’s mother, similarly influenced by government Cold War propaganda, is more philosophical than her spouse. She tells Celia: “Some people can be innocent. They can be talked into things. Communists are very bad, dangerous, [and they] brainwash people.” As has been done to Patty by her anti-Communist government? Patty indeed comes to see the truth.

Fiercely herself, Celia copes as best she can with two unfathomable worlds: the adult one, with its authoritarian principles and political chatter; that of her imagination. Children, agitated by the government’s anti-rabbit propaganda, brand Celia’s rabbit, Murgatroyd, at a bonfire and the law takes away this beloved pet. When Murgatroyd ends up dead, Celia exacts revenge.

Throughout, fire—this includes gunfire—is symbolical of the hysteria that the anti-rabbit, anti-Communist government has stirred up. There is even a mass book burning.

2.37GB | 1h 43m | 1024×552 | mkv


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