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a milestone in Australian psychedelic cinema

DALMAS (1973)

The first half of Dalmas follows an ex-cop's passage through
the Melbourne drug scene in search of an anarchistic acid
dealer, 'Plastic Man', whom he eventually tracks down to a
seaside commune. Here, the film turns inside out, the camera
reverses its gaze, becoming a documentary about the crew, the
communal "tribe", and the shared experience of drug taking
and the filmmaking process.

Only the first half of Dalmas is scripted. The second part of
the film becomes an exercise in self-expression during which the
distinction between cast and crew is dissolved, leaving all
free to contribute to the film outside of normal directorial
control. Part two is free of structured narrative - "In the
first part of the film we were like slaves" says Bert Deling.
It's an eccentric study of the problems of trying to capture
honest experience in film, and of attempting to create a cinema
propelled by personal revelation, an ultimately frustrating
experience for those involved (although not for the audience),
jarringly represented in a guttural screaming exhibition of
incredible intensity by one of The Tribe. (Of course, he ends
by asking, "Is that enough?"). As Derling concedes, the problem
lies in the nature of film... "a crude linear form (used) to
convey a complex multilayered experience."

Dalmas conceives of narrative cinema in terms of its
illusionistic processes, but contrastingly uses its reflexive
device in order to contrast the constructedness of the first
half of the film against the more truthful personal expression
of second half, where participants are 'freed' from cinematic
'role-playing', both on and off screen.

A key work in independent Australian cinema of its time, this
experimental feature was made on a collective basis primarily
by members of the communal artistic performing group, The Tribe.
Heavily influenced by alternative culture, the film also
impresses with its formal innovation. The fictional framework
of crime melodrama constitutes the first half of the film. As
the scene shifts from city to country, the fiction is taken over
by a more reflexive process of group expression which could not
be encompassed by conventional performance.

"Change your perceptions and you change your life. Change
enough lives and society falls, and that my friends is
anarchy..." -Plastic Man, Melbourne City Square, 1973.

Dir: Bert Deling. Prod Co: Apogee Films. Scr: Bert Deling.
DoP: Sasha Trikojus. Music: SPECTRUM. Addit. Crew: Lloyd
Carrick. Cast: Peter Whittle (Dalmas), Peter Cummings (Plastic
Man), MAX GILLIES (Rojack), John Duigan (film director),
Roger Ward (Policeman), The Tribe. 103 mins. NFVLS

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18 February, 2002 10:52 AM







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