Submission note: "A thesis submitted in total fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts [to the] Media: Screen + Sound, School of Communication, Arts & Critical Enquiry, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University, Bundoora"
Several critics and academics of Australian film have touched on the gothic as a mode within the national cinema. However, few have offered anything more than a cursory discussion of ‘Australian gothic’, or, more specifically, ‘Australian Suburban gothic’. This study undertakes an examination of the suburban gothic within Australian film more thoroughly, with a particular focus on why the suburban landscape is so suitable for the gothic mode. The central argument of this thesis is that the suburban environment lends itself to the gothic mode of film, and is an ideal setting for the gothic narrative and style. Literary reviews of the gothic as a mode and of representations of suburbia within Australian fiction comprise the first part of the thesis, forming chapters one and two. The second part of the thesis utilises close analysis as a means to explore the notion of suburbia as a suitable landscape for the gothic. Three keys films, Beautiful (O’Flaherty 2009), The Square (Edgerton 2008) and Noise (Saville 2007), each serve as case studies which comprise the third, fourth and fifth chapters. Areas of interrogation within this thesis include the relationship between the gothic mode and the film noir style, the similarities of which are evident in The Square. In the discussion of Noise, the notion of ‘the sonic gothic’ is addressed in the use of sound to generate atmosphere and stimulate a gothic setting. The consistent duelling of the romantic and the horror within the gothic mode is discussed, particularly as it is displayed in Beautiful. In its conclusion, this study finds that the suburban environment lends itself to the gothic mode precisely because of the perceived innocuousness of suburbia. The virus like quality of the gothic infiltrates this homely and hospitable environ and allows for the monstrous to settle in and develop, wreaking havoc and upsetting the natural order of the film world.
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