We Don't Need a Map (2017)

  |  Documentary



6.6/10
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7 February 2018 | andrewbunney
10
| Fun, funny, fantastic music and images
I was blessed to see a preview of this wonderful film focussing on the long history in Australia of the stars known as the Southern Cross. Of course Captain Cook and company navigated here by the stars a couple of hundred years ago, but long before that there was a close connection to the star formation for thousands of years. Different language groups had hundreds of different names and stories for the stars including of dreamtime emus.

More recently the Cross has been co-opted by the workers on the Eureka stockade, for the national flag, by the Socialist movement and most recently by white supremacists. The film questions the place of the Southern Cross constellation in the Australian psyche, as film maker Warwick Thornton did recently when he questioned whether it was becoming like the Nazi swastika.

From deep time to the current huge business in tattoo removal, master cinematographer, film director and all round good bloke Warwick Thornton wanders the continent uncovering our connection to the 5 stars that never dip below the horizon.

Thornton playfully and casually teases out the threads through exquisitely beautiful time-lapse sequences of the night sky with stars spinning & clouds on the move, to puppet animations, interviews and wry musings. It is a brilliantly made 'gonzo' doco with Thornton talking to elders, tattooists, musicians, intellectuals, historians and others about deep history, Cronulla, white supremacists, windmills and more. The parade of great characters include the rapper Briggs, Romaine Morton, Bruce Pascoe and Ken West of the BDO, recollecting his pillorying for banning Aussie flags at the event when it came to be used as a divisive weapon.

Warwick Thornton is a strong (and delightful) presence in the film himself, talking from behind the camera and often coming out, too. You can really see him making the film in a charming way. The result is novel and original in style, only comparable to Michael Moore at his best, cleverly juxtaposing ideas and images. One irony is that the defining cross is not even visible to most of the settler inhabitants because of light and other pollution in the most populous areas.

The film is full of great stories and it's all set to a rollicking soundtrack of Aussie pop, punk and hip-hop including The Saints, The Drones, Frenzal Rhomb, The Peep Temple and Briggs.

Thornton won best DOP for 'The Sapphires' and plenty of accolades for his feature dramas Samson & Delilah & Sweet Country. We Don't Need A Map is a diamond from a cinematic genius; a challenging and thrilling documentary, rich and rewarding. It is by turns, fun, informative, hilarious and sobering. I found it a mood-lifting experience and a foundation for true pride in and an appreciation of this country. It's an exhilarating, modern view of Australia. I'm giving it 5 stars (out of 5) which is fair and fitting!

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