Review : "For the Term of His Natural Life" -- Norman Dawn

Goldsmith, Ben (2010) Review : "For the Term of His Natural Life" -- Norman Dawn. In Goldsmith, Ben & Lealand, Geoff (Eds.) Directory of World Cinema : Australia and New Zealand. Intellect Ltd., Bristol, pp. 134-135.

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Synopsis and review of For the Term of His Natural Life (Norman Dawn, 1927). Includes cast and credits.

For the Term of His Natural Life was one of the last Australian silent films, and also one of the most significant in the history of Australian cinema. At the time of its production, controversy raged over its depiction of convict life, its scale and cost (which was reported to be around 50,000 pounds at a time when most Australian films had budgets of less than 2,000 pounds1) and the fact that the director, several of the crew and the leading cast members were American. Australasian Films launched a publicity campaign of unprecedented scale to counter opposition to the film’s subject matter and the charge that they were “seeking to make capital out of the drab and sordid days of Australia”.2 The film’s expense was turned into a virtue: hundreds of unemployed men were used as extras, while the film also provided work for many within the Australian film industry and, according to Australasian, enabled the establishment of new production companies. The American imports who earlier had been accused of being “party to the slaughtering” of the Australian film industry, were feted for their artistic contributions, and the concerns raised in federal parliament about an American “invasion” were deflected by claims about what the local industry could learn from those with Hollywood experience.3 The publicity campaign was successful, as the film proved enormously popular at the Australian box office in its initial run. But the coming of sound film in 1928 had a considerable impact on audiences for silent films like For the Term, and its early local success was not repeated in subsequent seasons or in overseas markets...

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 61943
Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Australian cinema, Australian film, genre, Prison, Convicts
ISBN: 9781841503738
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > CULTURAL STUDIES (200200) > Screen and Media Culture (200212)
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 Intellect Ltd.
Deposited On: 20 Aug 2013 23:33
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2013 08:47

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