FESTIVAL – Unsound Adelaide – Snowtown: Live – Town Hall – 5K


By Peter Maddern

Once most years at the Fringe or Festival, one will witness something sublimely terrific that is gripping in its imagery and production. Snowtown: Live on Thursday evening was one such experience for this reviewer.

Of course there is nothing pretty about the whole Snowtown saga and many distanced themselves from Justin Kurzel’s 2011 movie on account of its reality (remember silly Richard Wilkins?) Then Kurzel chose to beef up its impact by using unknown actors to play out the story that happened around Salisbury and Elizabeth in advance of the horror of the acid barrels some 100kms north in Snowtown.

Here, using footage taken then but not previously used, Kurzel produces an hour long film that is very much a portrait of the area and its people, with only glimpses of the actors used in the film and a lot more of the local inhabitants and their homes.

To this is added his brother’s Jed’s award winning score to the film, a piece entirely in keeping with the deeply unsettling vision which is mostly delivered in slow motion.

UNSOUND_SNOWTOWN_LIVE_AND_STARS_OF_THE_LID_adelaide_festival_gallery_5_220x332After a seemingly endless motor cycle ride on a levee between two salt water lakes, we start with some pre-teenage kids playing on a swing in the rain; a most unnerving and discombobulating opening where an intense, gut instinct of fear of something untoward about to happen kicks in. From there we visit upon locals at home, with their trademark tatts and nipple rings before unkempt yards full of tyre rims, upturned shopping carts, abandoned toys and other indulgences, young kids with tops on inside out showing off their mullet haircuts, all carrying all manner of obese physiques.

Three sequences then used standout; first an elderly lady being adored by her licking dogs, then a pre-pubescent girl getting dressed in the mirror before going off to face her day and finally a python gorging itself on a (thankfully) dead mouse – the last of these perhaps as fitting and gross a metaphor for the Snowtown story as there is.

Jed’s score maintains a haunting vibration throughout, mostly delivered by two synths, two guitars and drums but also with occasional cello input. Sometimes it crashes, or holds you in suspense but never is there an upbeat note.

In the context of the upcoming State election being fought strongly around economic management, this was all most poignant – who has been thinking about the welfare of these people who, while seemingly a world away from Thursday’s Town Hall venue, are in fact just a mere 15kms north? Certainly I did not see any of the local members of that area standing up in the foyer at the break proclaiming proudly – ‘them’s my boys!’

Of course, such a sixty minutes is not for everyone and whether those in another city or country will be willing to see their own on the screen is up for debate but when you line up last year’s fairy floss 2001 Space Odyssey music night at the Festival Theatre and this, Snowtown: Live is a triumph and a real Festival highlight.

Kryztoff Rating   5K

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