Adaptations down under

Reading national identity through the lens of adaptation studies

Authored by: Claire McCarthy

The Routledge Companion To Adaptation

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138915404
eBook ISBN: 9781315690254
Adobe ISBN:


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Australian adaptations Picnic at Hanging Rock (Weir 1975), Strictly Ballroom (Luhrmann 1992), and the Mad Max films (Miller 1979; 1981; 1985; 2015) are key markers in popular representations of Australian heritage, nationality, and identity within Australia and internationally. They are all in the top 100 highest earning Australian feature films (Screen Australia 2016b), and they have each received extensive critical attention and acclaim (O’Regan 1996; Powers 2015). Drawing on Monika Pietrzak-Franger’s (2012) discussion of adaptations as palimpsests, this chapter examines these films as adaptations. In particular, the way in which they adapt history, national stereotypes, and genre to represent new versions of Australia’s ‘national story.’ This chapter argues that reading Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), Strictly Ballroom (1992), and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) as adaptations reveals the ongoing construction of nation, heritage, and ethnicity in Australia. It demonstrates that through the process of adaptation these texts exist as layered versions of themselves and their surrounding contexts. They are palimpsests conjuring an image of Australian national identity at the same time as they deconstruct the notion of Australian-ness they are deemed to represent.

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