Review : "Ghosts...of the Civil Dead" -- John Hillcoat

Goldsmith, Ben (2010) Review : "Ghosts...of the Civil Dead" -- John Hillcoat. In Goldsmith, Ben & Lealand, Geoff (Eds.) Directory of World Cinema : Australia and New Zealand. Intellect Ltd., Bristol, pp. 137-139.

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Abstract

Synopsis and review of the Australian prison film Ghosts...of the Civil Dead (John Hillcoat, 1988).

Drawing heavily from the book In the Belly of the Beast by American author and long-term prisoner Jack Henry Abbott, as well as from the historical and philosophical work of Michel Foucault (the credits include ‘Foucault Authority – Simon During’), Ghosts… Of the Civil Dead is a searing critique of the so-called ‘new generation’ prison system developed in the United States and recently introduced in Australia. Director John Hillcoat and producer Evan English conducted extensive research for the film, including spending time at the National Institute of Corrections, a think tank in Colorado, and visiting numerous institutions like the ‘new Alcatraz’ at Marion Illinois and other maximum security prisons across the United States. Using a mix of professionals and non-actors, including former prisoners and prison guards, the ‘story’ was workshopped during a lengthy rehearsal period with many actual events and experiences of participants incorporated into the film. The end result deliberately blurs the line between American and Australian prison experience to make the political point that what had happened in the US – from where many events and characters, and much of the architecture and design of the prison are drawn – was beginning to happen in Australia. The film emphasises the vicious cycle of institutionalisation, and highlights the role state authorities play in manufacturing, provoking and manipulating violence and fear both in prisons and in wider society as a means to augment policing and surveillance of the population, to oppress the working classes, and to maintain the political status quo...

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 61944
Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Australian cinema, Australian film, Prison, genre, Nick Cave
ISBN: 9781841503738
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > CULTURAL STUDIES (200200) > Screen and Media Culture (200212)
Divisions: Current > 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 23:10
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2013 08:47

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