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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Walk Into Paradise

Walk Into Paradise is a fascinating film, perhaps more for its choice of location than its dramatic qualities. The location, of course, is the Australian-administered territories of Papua and New Guinea (before the country gained independence) where I spent many happy years of my life. The film indulges in some pro-colonial romanticism, in which Chips Rafferty shoulders the white man’s burden to bring civilisation to the savage heart of New Guinea which, says the introductory narration, is an island where 'today a gallant band of young Australian administrators are bringing civilisation to the most primitive people left on the face of the earth’.

The film was shot on location in several inhospitable locations, and it has some remarkable footage to show for it: Sepik River long canoes paddled exclusively by women, and a full-scale highlands sing-sing, with hundreds of warriors in traditional dress trampling down grass to make an airstrip. Much of the story mirrors incidents in the pioneering expeditions of the Leahy brothers, the first white men to reach the New Guinea highlands, in the early 1930s.

The DVD is sold by the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia.