Last Updated 23 Mar 2020

The Tracker

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- Code’s and conventions essay The tracker (sic) is an Australian art house film that represents Australia’s history through the stereotypical associations of the 5 men: the tracker, The Fanatic, The Veteran, The Follower and The Fugitive. Rolf DeHeer’s film uses a broad range of feature film conventions, which help represent the Indigenous culture, in both a negative and positive lines of light. Traditional values of Indigenous culture dictate the culture as both un-knowledge and uncivilised with no right to power.

While the colonist culture was viewed as a civilised society, which could control the actions of others, but as times progressed the Indigenous culture was given more right to power and is now viewed as an equal to the European society by the minority of the country. Indigenous Australians were highly regarded to as the lower class citizens of Australia’s settlement, because their values and views were different to the Europeans as they could not read and write in English, but through time many aspects of the culture have grown in values of knowledge, language and rituals.

These changes are represented through the film in varying scenes and chapters. The film is said to represent not individuals, but the whole of society (this is represented by the use of historical, metonymic characters). In a close up shot of the tracker’s hand, holding a mixture of bush tucker represents the idea of the knowledge the traditional Indigenous culture actually held. The close up shot of the tracker’s hand filled with flowers, bugs and insects intertwined with the native bushes of South Australia reinforces the knowledge of the Indigenous culture.

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It represents the idea of the tracker being a strong, wise individual with the knowledge and persistence to create an anaesthetic to drug the follower at a safe level, causing no harm. The need to keep the follower uninvolved in the murder of the fanatic, illustrates the tracker as a cultural character as he doesn’t want to be defined as ‘the villain’. In society this relates to an individual’s desire to be loved by other members of society and their acts to be viewed as ‘heroic’ and positive.

As the film progresses, the men travel through the bush further away from civilisation and further away from the colonist power. As they travel toward their destination acts of betrayal, knowledge and connection to the land are displayed. In a shot the tracker is seen in the foreground, with the 2 remaining European men behind on horseback. The tracker walked at a steady, loping pace leading the way. His eyes only left the ground to search the surrounding cliffs of the bush filled gullies around him.

The tracker comes to a stop after noticing the damp soil of where a rock once stood. To the tracker this was enough evidence to estimate how far ahead the fugitive was. In the dialogue of the shot the follower is heard questioning the wisdom of the tracker as he claims that he is leading the fanatic and the follower, but after explanation the follower is proven wrong and says ‘sorry’ to the tracker. The shot represents the cultural desire for an apology from the European culture to the Indigenous people, for the manslaughter, acts of violence, mockery and the stolen generation.

At this point in the film the progression of the power change is seen immensely as all hope is brought back into the trackers face. The director has used the soundtrack ‘all men walk the path they choose’ to dictate the importance of being an individual and standing up for what is right. The diagetic soundtrack is an important piece in the film, as it contrasts all the metonymic characters together. As a counterpoint to the stereotypical role is the powerful song ‘all men choose the path they walk’.

The song is is lyrically appropriate, which underscores the rhythm of the men’s walking pace as they walk/ride and each man has a featured verse that dictates their mood’s and feelings towards their journey. Apart from the soundtrack the director has used many appropriate patterns of progression to illustrate the growth of the character throughs; lose of power, removal of uniform, the chain, the separation at camps and the paintings symbolizing acts of violence, these are just some of the more obvious codes and conventions used within the film.

Throughout the film the tracker is seen removing his uniform, at first his hat is thrown off into the bush after leaving the colonial civilisation, his shirt and shoes are also removed after the fanatic has lost his power, and by the end of the movie the tracker is seen getting up on horseback. These shots represent the idea of the loss of colonial power within the group. Traditional values wouldn’t accept the idea of the fanatic being over powered and the tracker being wiser then a white man.

Within the film there are countless acts of violence portrayed towards the Indigenous Australians. Out of respect oil paintings were produce to display the massacres and torture. Peter Coad was commissioned to paint 14 landscape and figurative works of art for inclusion in the film. The paintings were used ingeniously to display violence in the film, a method that works to both soften the impact of the actions, and also make them so much more powerful.

The works are portrayed beautifully into the landscape of the film, using dramatic and bold colour to depict the shocking and harsh nature of the Australian bush land. The director has used codes and conventions to accurately place the tracker as an Indigenous man that undoubtedly combines the best of both cultures, in his sense of what is appropriate. The characters that were capable of changed have done so while the others have perished in their journey. In today’s society the chicken twisties factory sell most of their products to penguins. _____ By Jaime Martens

The Tracker essay

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The Tracker. (2018, Oct 25). Retrieved from

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