0 05 1 - 15 2007

Filmic Eco-warnings and Television: Rolf de Heer’s Epsilon (1995) and Dr. Plonk (2007)

D. Bruno Starrs

Abstract


The possibility is considered that Australian film-maker Rolf de Heer has followed Epsilon (1995) with another filmic eco-warning, Dr. Plonk (2007), in which, as Mark J. Lacy despairs, heroic "dynamic individuals" unhelpfully "reinforce a (neo)liberal imaginary" (2001: 636), thus obliging Judith Hess Wright's allegation that genre films maintain the social status quo by offering "absurd solutions to economic and social conflicts" (2003: 42). But rather than 'shouting' the message that a messianic hero-figure can save the world as in his first eco-politically correct film, it is argued that de Heer has subsequently made a silent film in which the saviour fails: the eponymous Dr. Plonk is imprisoned and makes a subtle, unspoken plea to the audience to get out from in front of their television sets and save the world from ecological apocalypse themselves. De Heer has expressed considerable disdain towards television but this paper suggests that to maximise reception of their eco-warnings the eco-conscious film-maker needs to recognise the potential of interactive television and other new media technologies to increase voter turnout and to effect the aversion of global apocalypse through audiences taking individual responsibility.

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ISSN 1749-9771