Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Sapphires

The Australian film, ‘The Sapphires’, is not your standard biopic of a musical star, or a group, even though the film, based on a stage play by the same name is inspired by a true story of four sister singers. Neither it is a ‘The Dreamers’ like musical, even though music plays a very important role in the film, and there are some very peppy, soul numbers. The film stars four Aboriginal Australian women, but it is not as dour as the film ‘Australia’ or any film about aboriginals. The most part of the film is set in Vietnam during the war. But, the film isn’t really about the war.

Then what do you make of ‘The Sapphires’? Only this: It’s bloody good fun. It’s earthly. It places its characters in real life situation and tells a real story, without as much glamour as possible, even though the story is of glamour. It addresses some real issues of 1960s Australia, especially about how the Aboriginal people are treated (Two great Australian film about Aboriginals, to my mind, are Rolf de Heer’s ‘Ten Canoes’ (2007) and Warwick Thornton's ‘Samson and Delilah’ (2009). The first film celebrates the part while the second examines the present.). There are issues of racism and staff, yet, the film takes its seriousness in its stride.

What the film is more interested in the journey of these four girls, the youngest one is already a single mother, and how they find themselves and enjoy themselves though music. They want to get out of their sub-standard existence, and singing is their only tool. They find a chance to escape as entertainers to the American soldiers in Vietnam under the managership of a good-natured drunk and down in luck Dave Lovelace.

It’s interesting how the bulk of the film is set in Vietnam, amidst the war, and yet is able to keep its focus on the girls. War does have an effect on them, but you don’t end up crying.

It’s a joyride.

The Sapphires is a 2012 Australian musical comedy-drama film produced by Goalpost Pictures and distributed by Hopscotch Films, based on the 2004 stage play of the same name which is loosely based on a true story. The film is directed by Wayne Blair and written by Keith Thompson and Tony Briggs, the latter of whom wrote the play. The film is about four indigenous women, Gail (Deborah Mailman), Julie (Jessica Mauboy), Kay (Shari Sebbens) and Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell), who are discovered by a talent scout (Chris O'Dowd), and form a music group called The Sapphires, travelling to Vietnam in 1968 to sing for troops during the war. Production began in 2010, with the casting of the four members of The Sapphires, and filming taking place throughout New South Wales in Australia and Vietnam during August and September 2011. The Sapphires made its world premiere at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival on 19 May 2012 during its out of competition screenings, was theatrically released in Australia on 9 August and received a limited release in the United States on March 22, 2013.

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