Published on August 5th, 2006 | by Hans Fruck


Films, Chocolates & the Herald-Sun

Last Friday night, I went to the world premiere of The Book of Revelation at the Forum in Melbourne. I was interviewing the lead actor, Tom Long, the following Monday for Beat, so the film’s publicist reserved a seat for me at the cinema.

Therefore, after collecting my ticket in the foyer, I had the luxury of being directed up the Forum’s empty left-hand stairwell by smartly dressed ushers who addressed me as ‘sir’ and regarded me with an unaccustomed degree of respect. Meanwhile, on the right-hand stairwell, the plebs jostled each other as they queued, staring at me enviously.

Being a man of the people, and never one to flaunt an advantage, I restricted myself to promenading up and down the left-hand stairwell three or four times on one pretext or another, slowing only to familiarly engage the ushers with some Lord-of-the-Manor repartee. Having demonstrated to the plebs the ease with which VIPs could move about the cinema, I proceeded into the theatre at a stately stroll. (Just in time, as it turned out, because the ushers on the right-hand stairwell had unleashed the hordes, who noisily tumbled into the theatre, ruining the ambience and just generally talking through their noses. Fuckers.)

Enough about me, you say, whaddabout the film? Well, I’m writing this piece, Hitler, not you. So chill the fuck out and relinquish the controls to me. [This is your captain speaking.] Fact is, I’ve already written twice about TBOR, so I’ll limit myself here to noting that the film is, in many ways, better than the novel, and the director, Anna Kokkinos, shows a strong vision and considerable skill in realising it.

What I really want to talk about is a snotty article about The Book of Revelation that appeared recently in the Herald-Sun: ‘More than $4.5 million of taxpayers’ money’, observed the lede of the article, ‘has been sunk into a controversial movie that features a man being gang-raped by masked women’. To be fair, the article did quote Kokkinos and Film Finance Corporation CEO Brian Rosen, who had nice things to say about her. But it was hard to avoid the tone of lips-crimped disapproval hiding behind all that journalistic ‘objectivity’.

I mean, we’re talking about a film that has yet to be released and practically no one has seen. How can there be ‘controversy’? Ah, that’s right, it’s controversy that the Herald-Sun has yet to drum up. Yes, that kind of controversy. The kind of controversy that the tut-tutters love. They’re the people who never undo their top button unless it’s to vent outrage at everyone else’s decadence and immorality.

But even the predictable pandering of the Herald-Sun to the blue-rinse set wasn’t what caught my attention. No, what really interests me is the unspoken assumption that public money should be spent on something uplifting and inspirational. An assumption that, in turn, reminded of a hilarious interview Oprah Winfrey did with Tom Cruise.

No, not that interview – but a much older interview just prior to the release of Interview with a Vampire. I remember Oprah, gushing her customary vats of icky empathy, asking Tom why he had to star in a film that was – I paraphrase – so negative and life-denying.

Oprah and the Herald-Sun, you see, have been beaten with the same stupid stick. I ask you: what kind of world would we live in if the only films were Disney-esque tributes to the human spirit? Precisely! (Yes, I can sense your agreement.) The real denial of life would to depict only half of it.

Surfing, as I currently am, on a wave of startling originality, let me observe that life is like a box chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna ge-eeeet. [Ohhhhhh, that’s good – I must remember to put it in my novel.] Sometimes you get a delectable nubbin of nougat-ry goodness. Other times you get a lame-ass chocolate with an evil liqueur filling.

And artists have a right, if not a responsibilty, to sink their fangs into the entire spectrum of boxed chocolatiness.

The world’s a fucked-up place. It’s filled to the brim with genocide, suicide, homicide, pesticide, and liqueur-filled chocolates. Take it from me, the world’s screwed, and so are you. Stop living in denial.

But if we’re gonna tell stories about ourselves and about our world, how can we ignore all that darkness and depravity? If we did, we would see only our daylight selves, the parts of ourselves that we parade for public consumption. We are the sum of our actions. Our kindnesses. Our loves. Our generosities. But also our evils. Our mischiefs. Our petty tyrannies.

So let’s fucking see them. On screen.

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