The indigenous Australian writer and director, named Wayne Blair directed the film The Sapphires which was released in the year 2012. The plot of the film, set in 1968 Australia, was based on the play of the same name by Tony Briggs. The film was based on the female indigenous Australian singing group, who performed for the troops during the Vietnam War. The film highlights the discrimination of the society against the aboriginal population, in addition to shedding light on the struggle of the all-female aboriginal Australia singing group. The film has also highlighted different aspects of culture and identity, which is manipulated or discriminated in the case of the aboriginal population (Davis, 2017). The film is not only the source of the entertainment, but it also helps different sections of the society to reflect on their ideology and practices, which added to the difficulties of the aboriginal groups of the society. The Sapphires may have provided entertainment to the society by sharing the struggle of the female singing group, however, it shaped the societies by dictating its values that the aboriginal groups also deserve the opportunities of progress and the appreciation of the society, in recognition of their talents.
The plot of the movie highlighted the rise to fame of the aboriginal females singing group, named The Sapphires. The group comprised of three sisters, Gail, Julie and Cynthia and one of their cousin, Kay who was actually a member of the stolen generation. She was separated from her parents and community because she was half white and the government thought she is able to assimilate into the mainstream white society. She reunited with her cousins, after a significant period of the years and had developed an identity crisis, as she did not belong to the mainstream white society and could not relate with her roots of the aboriginal culture as well. The girls initially tried to win the talent contest, in order to launch their career, however, they failed in it. The failure provided them the opportunity of getting scouted by an Irish group for entertaining the troops in the Vietnam War. The group became famous due to its remarkable performance. Apart from their success, they faced the issues of relationship, identity and making their place in the white dominant society (Blair, Blight, Du Fresne, O'Dowd, Mailman, Mauboy, & Briggs, 2012).
The Sapphires is not just a fictitious story, however, it is based on the story of a real-life an aboriginal female singing groups. Though a little element of drama is added into the film, the main focus of the film is the same which is the struggle of the aboriginal population to make their place in the mainstream white society. They did not only had to make their position in the society but also had to go through the brutal practices of being separated from their loved ones, which ultimately formed the stolen generation (Davis, 2014). The only purpose of the film is not to chant the success or development of the all-girl singing group, however, it has a bigger purpose of highlighting the brutality of the dominating and authoritative society, which supported the inhumane practices. The film has shaped society by highlighting its grave mistake of enacting the program of the stolen generation. The basic concept of the program was inappropriate in the way the white government did not have any right to decide if the half children can be better brought up in their own culture or in the white culture. The government wanted to assimilate them into the white culture, in order to erase the roots of the aboriginal culture from society. However, the stolen generations developed the identity crisis, as they were not able to relate to either group of society. Instead of getting the opportunities for a better life, they lost their identity and became a mockery of society (Griffin, Griffin, & Trudgett, 2017).
The film has served a greater purpose of dictating the value system of the society, while not just limiting to provide entertainment to the viewers. It has highlighted that even after getting a little chance of progress, The Sapphires group was able to show to the white dominant society that they do have talent and abilities. The white society used to look down upon the aboriginal population of Australia, however, the girls' group focused on proving themselves to the odds of the society, instead of being submissive to the struggles and difficulties that were put in their way (Stratton, 2015). The film has also highlighted that in a modern world Indigenous people have little chance of being anything other than what they are constructed to be. They are limited or in other words, confined to their own communities, as the general white society does not like to interact with the aboriginals. They are not provided the opportunities for progress, yet they emerge as a great talent and exemplary figures when provided with a little chance of proving themselves (Dolgopolov, 2014).
The Sapphires has achieved a greater purpose of shaping the society and dictating its value system by highlighting the struggle and rise to fame of the aboriginal female singing group. The film has highlighted the discriminatory attitude of the government and the mainstream white society which not only seized the opportunities of progress for the aboriginal community, however, also committed the grave sin of separating the half white members of the aboriginal groups from their families. The society needs to acknowledge the identity of all the groups, instead of trying to change or discriminate them and the film provides the lesson that aboriginal people are equally able to make progress if provided with opportunities.
Blair, W., Blight, R., Du Fresne, K., O'Dowd, C., Mailman, D., Mauboy, J., ... & Briggs, T. (2012). The Sapphires. Hopscotch Films.
Davis, T. (2014). Locating The Sapphires: transnational and cross-cultural dimensions of an Australian Indigenous musical film. Continuum, 28(5), 594-604.
Davis, T. (2017). Australian Indigenous Screen in the 2000s: Crossing into the Mainstream. In Australian Screen in the 2000s (pp. 231-259). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
Dolgopolov, G. (2014). Beyond black and white: Indigenous cinema and the mainstream. Metro Magazine: Media & Education Magazine, (181), 78.
Griffin, L., Griffin, S., & Trudgett, M. (2017). At the Movies: Contemporary Australian Indigenous Cultural Expressions–Transforming the Australian Story. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 1-8.
Stratton, J. (2015). The Sapphires were not the Australian Supremes: neoliberalism, history, and pleasure in The Sapphires. Continuum, 29(1), 17-31.
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