Australia: Beyond the Fatal Shore | 2000

Documentary, Historical
An examination of the history and culture of Australia. Art critic and author Robert Hughes chronicles a world of Aboriginal peoples who inhabited the land for 40,000 years, and those who are descended from an 18th ...more

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Synopsis

An examination of the history and culture of Australia. Art critic and author Robert Hughes chronicles a world of Aboriginal peoples who inhabited the land for 40,000 years, and those who are descended from an 18th century penal colony for British prisoners and renegades. In the process, he shows an Australia that has grown into a modern nation.

Episode 1: "Body and Soul." Explains how central the seaside is to Australian life. Sport, fitness, physicality and physical pleasure have become a metaphor for modern life. It has only been in the past 50 years that Australians have rebelled against their British Puritan legacy. The conflict continues as contemporary mores bring out the hedonism in some, and a devotion to conservatism and censorship in others.

Episode 2: "The Dead Heart." The hard memory of European Australia's grim beginnings as a penal colony is revealed as still very close to the surface of national consciousness. The urge to conquer the landscape laid the foundation for Australia's nation-building -- and set in motion an inevitable clash with the continent's Aborigines, who were spiritually bonded to its vast lands.

Episode 3: "Money, Class and Power." Australia has evolved into one of the most middle-class nations on Earth. But its growth from penal colony to suburban utopia has produced different kinds of power struggles. Although most Australians eschew the idea of class, business and politics vie for national control, and media exerts enormous influence.

Episode 4: "After Trousers." To Australia's Aboriginal peoples, the era after the coming of the Europeans is known as "after trousers," the name for the time when their plight began and both their faith and way of life were threatened. Explores how Australia's other contemporary struggle is one of Aboriginal identity for the continent's native people, as relations between blacks and whites still remain fraught with conflict.

Episode 5: "The Wave of the Future." Australia's history of racism is examined. Australia officially prides itself on being successfully multi-cultural, but ugly sentiments nonetheless bubble to the Australian surface.

Episode 6: "The Long Goodbye." Examines the often-troubled history between the nation and its part in the British Empire. Traces Australia's attachment to the British Empire to a national inferiority complex born of the "convict stain" that has still not fully been washed away.

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