Sunday, May 30, 2010
Samson and Delilah
Samson and Delilah is an Australian film about two teenagers, who fall in love, and struggle together for survival. It stars Rowan Mc Namara and Marissa Gibson.
Two 14-year-old Aboriginal teenagers, Samson and Delilah live in a remote village, leading simple lives. Samson eyes Delilah, and constantly follows her. Although Delilah at first doesn’t fancy him, she finds herself staring at him when she sees him dance one night. With absolutely no verbal communication, he manages to get close to her once her grandmother dies, as he’s the only other person she knows around. They run away together in a stolen car. They never talk to each other.
The city is harsh. They find it difficult to survive, carrying nothing with them - no house to live in, no food to eat. They rely on a homeless man to give them food sometimes. We see instances where they care for each other. They work as a team when they need to steal from a supermarket. Delilah kisses him on the cheek to say thankyou out of affection. They only have each other.
The movie moves at almost zero talk between the two main characters. They look at each other, understand and live. Samson is addicted to the habit of sniffing petrol. It’s his only means of relaxation, a way to escape from what’s happening around him. Once they flee to the city, he gets so addicted that he can’t hear anything around him. He loses sense of sounds and actions. This detachment from the world happens to such an extent that he fails to notice when Delilah gets hit by a vehicle while she is walking behind him, or she gets picked up by three men in a car only to be raped later. The silence at those moments is deafening. It hits you like a thunderbolt.
What struck me the most about the movie is the haunting honesty with which the Director has shown the lives of the aborigines. With a lack of education, and a crude upbringing, we see how the two struggle to get food, and overcome day-to-day challenges of survival which is at its most difficult level for them in the city. They are looked as aliens from another planet, with great suspicion. What saddened me is that Australia with its rich culture from the Aboriginal community is used only to promote the country in terms of its arts and heritage. When Delilah buys chart paper and paints designs taught by her grandmother to sell it, she is completely ignored. When she steps into one of the stores that sell Aboriginal art, she is rudely sent back. Why do we “civilized” people live in such a farce? We open shops trying to use the works of the tribals to paint a pretty picture of the country and attract prospective buyers, but how many of us really care about them?
The film also brings out the traditions followed by the aborigines. Delilah cuts her hair after she discovers her grandmother dead. Samson does the same after he thinks he’s lost Delilah when she disappears.
Violence is part of their lives. Delilah is beaten up and accused for not taking care of her grandmother. She has no voice against her elders. Samson is beaten up by his own brother in retaliation to his assault of one of the band members who play outside his house. They get beaten up, get hurt and continue living. The film puts it simply. They accept it as a part of their lives.
When Samson and Delilah go to the city, they are treated no differently either. There may be no overt violence, but very open hostility from the city bred residents when they see them. Ironic, how the director has managed to show two sides of human hatred. On one side it’s brutal and physical, almost animal-like where emotions are laid bare with minimal verbal communication. On the other hand we see well-dressed, well-off people who may talk more and be more “literate”, nevertheless equally less inviting with hateful gestures and inconsiderate behaviour.
The music is rustic, and mostly in the background of what is playing in the village. The film is unhurried with its pace and takes us through brilliant visuals. The cinematography deserves special mention. The characters of Samson and Delilah steal the film’s thunder with perfect performances.
The name of the film, although seems to be disconnected to the Biblical characters, to me has a connection. In the film, Samson, unlike what legend has it, has no magical power or strength, but his strength lies in his desire for Delilah and how he goes about attaining her. She is a strong young women who knows how to go about life and follows Samson cautiously in the beginning, and then trusts him completely.
Love is a subject of debate. Because the two young people get entangled in the struggle for survival, sometimes we are not sure if they are capable of the emotions. They stick together, but some scenes with its stark brutality left me wondering. Do they have an option? They ended up together in the city, but their end once they reach there is to fend for themselves. Samson is devoid of feeling, especially when he gets lost in his world of sniffing. Delilah too, she returns everytime she disappears, but that’s because where else and who else will she go to? It’s more like a situation of wanting someone and also not having a better option to settle for something else. Hence, calling it a “love story” needs to be strongly contended.
Watch it for its numbing scenes, visual treat, honesty, innocence and hope. Hope to live and beat all the odds.