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Dispossession and the Making of Jedda

Hollywood in Ngunnawal Country

Catherine Kevin

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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Geschichte


'Dispossession and the Making of Jedda (1955)' newly locates the story of the genesis of the iconic 1955 film ‘Jedda’ (dir. Chauvel) and, in turn, ‘Jedda’ becomes a cultural context and point of reference for the history of race relations it tells. It spans the period 1930–1960 but is focused on the 1950s, the decade when Charles Chauvel looked to the ample resources of his friends in the rich pastoral Ngunnawal country of the Yass Valley to make his film. This book has four locations. The homesteads of the wealthy graziers in the Yass Valley and the Hollywood Mission in Yass town are its primary sites. Also relevant are the Sydney of the cultural and moneyed elites, and the Northern Territory where ‘Jedda’ was made. Its narrative weaves together stories of race relations at these four sites, illuminating the film’s motifs as they are played out in the Yass Valley, against a backdrop of Sydney and looking North towards the Territory. It is a reflection on family history and the ways in which the intricacies of race relations can be revealed and concealed by family memory, identity and myth-making. The story of the author, as the great granddaughter, great-niece and cousin of some of those who poured resources into the film, both disrupts and elaborates previously ingrained versions of her family history.

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