Jonathan auf der Heide
Screenwriters: based on a collection of short stories by Tim Winton
Runtime: 180 mins.
Australian release date: 26 September 2013
Set in the back blocks of Western Australia, Tim Winton’s collection of stories The Turning is described as ‘a cryptic jigsaw’ by the film’s creator, Robert Connolly. The film interpretation - The Turning - is a collaboration with seventeen Aussie directors, plus an animated chapter directed by Marieka Walsh, using T. S. Eliot’s poem ‘Ash Wednesday’ as an epigraph. At 180 minutes, this unique cinema event will be screened with an interval, with each patron receiving a full-colour program detailing each chapter and linking the protagonists, being various members of the Lang family and two characters called Frank and Max.
As with all omnibus collections of this nature, some stories will be singled out and resonate with different people. Using a smattering of female directors also gives the exercise an interesting diversity and they often stand out. For example, Ashlee Page’s On Her Knees, starring Susie Porter (Carol), as a cleaner, who has unjustly been accused of stealing; Claire McCarthy’s The Turning, starring Rose Byrne (Rae), a woman who is bullied by her husband and develops a friendship with a couple of born-again Christians; and Mia Wasikowska’s directorial debut
Long, Clear View, a gripping portrayal of a young boy, Vic (Matthew Shanley), who is fixated on his father’s rifle. Other standouts include Simon Stone’s Reunion, with a stellar cast including Cate Blanchett (Gail Lang), Richard Roxburgh (Vic Lang) and Robyn Nevin (Carol Lang), and David Wenham’s Commission, starring Hugo Weaving (Bob Lang) as a recluse who has abandoned his family.
Connolly successfully invited a number of filmmakers, producers, writers, cinematographers and designers to combine their talents and express their personal interpretations of a single chapter, using their own styles and locations. The result is a fascinating insight into the work that is full of memories and riddled with regrets. The stories and the characters are all given a free rein and it is interesting to go through the program after the screening to link it all together. When asked his opinion after seeing the film, Winton was quoted as saying, “hats off comrades”, a fine accolade indeed.