Mystery Road

Bunya Production / ABC
by
ABR Arts 01 June 2020

Mystery Road

Bunya Production / ABC
by
ABR Arts 01 June 2020

NOTE: This review contains spoilers for Mystery Road: Series 1.


As a genre, the western springs from colonial tension: tension between the old ways and the new; between the native people and an invading population; between humans and the land itself; between lore and the law. There are no westerns set in Britain. And while the gunslinging adventures of cowboy frontiersmen may have receded into the background of American culture, the genre remains ripe with critical and narrative potential for more freshly colonised countries like Australia.

While it’s never entered the mainstream the way it did in American film and television, the western has had a foothold in Australian culture since moving pictures began. The world’s first feature film was The Story of the Kelly Gang, shot in and around Melbourne in 1906. Australian filmmakers have been returning to that creative wellspring ever since, with films such as Robbery Under Arms (1957), The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), The Man From Snowy River (1982), The Tracker (2002), and The Proposition (2005). The year 2017 saw one of our greatest westerns in Sweet Country, directed by Warwick Thornton (Samson & Delilah [2009]), one of two pre-eminent Aboriginal filmmakers at the helm of ABC’s second series of Mystery Road. Thornton shares directing duties with Wayne Blair (The Sapphires (2012], Top End Wedding [2019]).

From the New Issue

Comment (1)

  • Thank you for such a thoughtful review, Jordan Prosser. It's not often that a critic will engage with such nuance and depth about a television series, putting it in its genre context, but also grappling with what the show is trying to do beyond just story. Thank you! I was disappointed that the ABR, dedicated to discussions of Australian writers, didn't name the writers of Mystery Road (while dedicating time to its directors and stars). So I will. The writers were Steven McGregor (writer of the mentioned Sweet Country), Tim Lee, Kodie Bedford, Danielle MacLean and Blake Ayshford. Thanks
    Posted by Blake Ayshford
    02 June 2020

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