– Representation Of White Australian & Aboriginal Law Essay, Research Paper
The movie ?Dead Heart? uses the background of a murder mystery to further explore this complex issue of Aboriginal culture and traditions and the inevitable clash that results when white Australians try to impose their own system of beliefs, values and history upon Aboriginal people. The film is set in the small aboriginal community of Wala Wala, in remote outback Australia, in which lies the significance of the title of the film.
A Local town cop by the name of Ray Lorkin tries to maintain some bearing of peace and harmony between two cultures that are essentially at odds with one another. Simmering racial tensions explode in the community when a young aboriginal labourer seduces a teacher’s wife on a sacred aboriginal site. The elders of the tribe conspire to punish the pair according to ancient laws, and Lorkin is caught in the middle of an insoluble dilemma as he sets out to deliver justice while the local population heads for a potentially violent and ugly confrontation.
British and Australian laws have affected Aboriginal people in many ways in the past, including the development of aboriginal legal rights, use of courts to further their interests, and their treatment received from the courts and police. A fundamental similarity between the two laws is obvious. After all, they are both built on the boundaries of the right way to behave, the rules for which people should follow, and the grounds of legitimacy for these laws.
Yet there are equally profound differences between the two laws. For instance, Aboriginal law within itself is religious in character. At its centre lie songs, myths and rituals, which follow ancestral events. The story starts with an aboriginal death in custody. A popular tribal member hangs himself in the local lock-up, and the tribal elder, Poppy, wants ?black fella justice? for the guilty and feels the police are as guilty as the local who supplied the grog.
The violation begins when the teacher?s wife has an affair with the local Aboriginal labourer. The place they choose is a sacred site, and tribal elders are outraged. When the lover mysteriously dies, Lorkin is certain it’s murder. He “knows” how these people work, and he is quoted in the movie for saying, “They can kill you without leaving marks”. This event shows the elaborate contrasts between Aboriginal and White Australian laws in the sense that it compares the Aboriginals beliefs on the matter to the beliefs and values of the Australian government.
The Aboriginal people had become accustomed to and familiar with living by their own laws, and often asserted that their law was ?from the beginning? or some such phrase, and could not be changed. It was difficult for them to adjust to the sudden changes in law as what were previously the accepted codes of behaviour, and commotion was caused when they didn?t abide by these laws.
In Aboriginal Law, a man whose sibling had been injured, or believed to be injured by another would recruit kin to help take action against the offender; an older man would muster other men to help him punish someone who had breached the tribe?s secrecy. There were consequences to these actions, the main ones being the endemic cycle of revenge and injury, and the results of this consequence were clearly demonstrated in the movie, with the cycle of revenge going around and around in circles, eventually ending tragically in yet another ?suicide? in lock-up.
Overall, White Australian and Aboriginal Laws presented in the movie were very different in comparison, both in nature and composition. The laws present totally different point of views, beliefs, morals and values within two separate and totally different cultures. The movie demonstrates and deals with these differences and the conflict aroused in the result of these abnormalities very clearly to the viewer and encourages them to apprehend and foresee the relationship and conflicts that these laws had upon the Australian and Aboriginal outback society as a whole.