WATCH THE SHADOWS DANCE
Australia, 1986, 90 minutes, Colour.
Tom Jennings, Vince Martin, Nicole Kidman, Joanne Samuel, Craig Pearce.
Directed by Mark Joffe.
Watch the Shadows Dance is an Australian film about youth, a martial arts film. The focus is on the present or the future, on young people bored with school but engaged by athletics, gymnastics, martial arts and life and death games. Adults are represented by absent parents, an exploitive sports master and a concerned teacher. There is also an underlying theme of drugs. It all works together enjoyably enough - if undemandingly for an action adventure.
1. Australian martial arts adventure? In itself, comparisons with international product? Enjoyable?
2. Sydney locations, the present or a future city, the focus on the city buildings, the school, the warehouses? Familiar ... but yet?
3. The importance of the stunts, special effects, choreography? Style and pace? Musical score and the songs?
4. The title and its interpretation? For the characters?
5. The familiar aspects of the city, the isolation, cold, school and cliques, martial arts training, the dark disco, drug dealing? The emphasis on youth, achievement?
6. The Game: skill, championship, danger, winning, achievement? Popular? The training, the group meeting, the computer working it? The individuals subordinate to the Game? The group challenge? Deadly? The climax within the Game?
7. Martial arts, karate? Gymnastics? Athletic scenes, training? Purpose? The pros and cons?
8. The contrast with study: boredom, relevance? The critique of school?
9. Robbie as the champion, his place in the group, the Game? Steve and the training, his admiration for him? Miss Bain and her concern, interfering? The warning? Friendship with Amy? Playing the Game, Brian and the danger, saving him from death? Competitiveness? Guy Duncan and his sinister presence? Suspicion? With Steve? His death? Robbie disillusioned with Steve? The build-up to the fight, the television? The truth? The finale with the Game and winning? The background of his family life, his mother and the television, his nightmare and people changing characters in the dream?
10. Amy and her liveliness, in school, in reality, friendship, the contrast with her behaviour in the dream? Her skills and stunt work?
11. The sketch of the group, Brian and the danger, the boy in the wheelchair, the support of the Came?
12. Steve and his military background, survival, wanting to be top, relying on drugs, his violence, the relationship, with Miss Bain, Guy Duncan, killing him, the fight with Robbie, the confrontation in the Game, his death? Not able to hold on?
13. Miss Bain, school, warning, concern about Steve? Her relationship with Steve, concern about Robbie?
14. The disco and the bar, the environment, the music, the drugs? Doug Ashdown as the manager?
15. Guy Duncan, contrast with Robbie, the drugs, power, hold over Steve, his death?
16. The point of view of the film? Education and sport? Martial arts?