Gemma Blackwood

Gemma Blackwood

About Gemma

Dr Gemma Blackwood is Coordinator of Communication Studies in the School of Creative Arts and Humanities at Charles Darwin University.

Her research is focussed on visual culture analysis, with particular interest in the relationship between the tourist versus the local.

In 2016, she co-edited the book Motion Pictures: Travel ideals in Film. She is currently researching representations of the outback in cinema, including the representation of the Northern Territory in cinema.



Talk: A place to die: Darwin City’s representation in the national cinematic imagination

Australia’s northern-most tropical city of Darwin has a strong presence in the domestic and international touristic imagination as a tropical escape destination – a small city poised on the edge of outstanding natural beauty – yet in national cinema Darwin is rarely presented, and when it is it is usually presented as a fatal frontier, literally “a place to die”.

In this paper, I survey the Australian feature films that have been set or have used Darwin as a film location, looking for key representational trends and resonances.

I analyse the way that key films have ‘toured’ Darwin, films that include Crocodile Dundee (1986), Dark Age (1986), Black Water (2007), Australia (2008), Balibo (2009), Charlie’s Country (2013) and Last Cab to Darwin (2015).

In many of these films, we find a distinct contrast from the more touristic versions of the city that the majority of spectators would be used to.

However, my research suggests that there is a tendency to focus on ethical questions around liminality and what Australian national identity means, which seems to correspond to the city’s longer literary representation as a frontier town in Australia.