Science Fiction Film & Television

Nowhere to run

Repetition compulsion and heterotopia in the Australian post-apocalypse – from ‘Crabs’ to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

Science Fiction Film & Television (2017), 10, (3), 329–351.

Abstract

This article argues that despite the genre status of the Mad Max films as post-apocalyptic sf, the driving force behind many of the images and concerns of the films derives from aspects of Australian history since colonisation. The article compares the way these themes appear in the Mad Max films to the way they are explored in ‘Crabs’, a 1972 short story by Australian writer Peter Carey. This story was later filmed as Dead End Drive-In, a film which itself draws on the aesthetic already developed through the Mad Max films. I use Freud’s theory of repetition compulsion to explore ways in which history is both remembered and deliberately forgotten through imagery that is dislocated from the past to the ‘future’ and thus in effect to a timeless, ever-present or ever-recurring time. The article also argues that Foucault’s concept of heterotopia (a space that is populated by a selected, heterogenerous group such inmates in a prison), describes the reality of the penal colonies forming the origins of settler Australia. The colony’s status as heterotopia has led to a pervasive sense of the ‘irreality’ of Australia for many non-Indigenous Australians, expressed through numerous artworks: a sense that there is no ‘there’ out there, nowhere to run.

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Piper, Alana. ‘Female Convicts: Victims or Agents?’ Crossroads: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics 1.1 (2006): 55–60. ‘Female Convicts: Victims or Agents?’ Crossroads: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics 1.1 55 60 Google Scholar

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State Library of New South Wales Archive. ‘From Terra Australis to Australia, The 1808 “Rum” Rebellion’, http://www2.sl.nsw.gov.au/archive/discover_collections/history_ nation/terra_australis/rebellion/. Accessed 13 Feb 2016. Google Scholar

Swinford, Dean. ‘Defining Irrealism: Scientific Development and Allegorical Possibility’, Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts 12.1 (2001): 77–89. ‘Defining Irrealism: Scientific Development and Allegorical Possibility’ Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts 12.1 77 89 Google Scholar

Swinford, Dean. ‘A Response to a Response to Defining Irrealism’, 2013. http://cafeirreal.alice whittenburg.com/review1c.htm. Accessed 12 Feb 2016. Google Scholar

Tench, Watkin. 1788 Comprising A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay & A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson. Ed. Tim Flannery. Melbourne Victoria: Text Publishing, 1996. 1788 Comprising A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay & A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson Google Scholar

Tranter, Kieran. ‘Mad Max: The Car and Australian Governance’, National Identities 5 (2003): 67–81. ‘Mad Max: The Car and Australian Governance’ National Identities 5 67 81 Google Scholar

Weaver, Roslyn. Apocalypse in Australian Fiction and Film: A Critical Study. Jefferson: McFarland, 2011. Apocalypse in Australian Fiction and Film: A Critical Study. Google Scholar

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Corbett, Claire

Corbett, Claire