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"Her husband barely in the grave ... and that dress!" : colour, gender and Lady Sarah Ashley

conference contribution
posted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Karin Stokes
Despite the ‘new’ Hollywood concepts pervading post-modern films, Baz Luhrman’s Australia has retained the forms, themes and genre trappings of past Hollywood productions, and this has led to considerable unfavourable media criticism. Nonetheless, Australia’s box-office success attests that the film’s themes have registered favourably with audiences in Australia. Genre critics have highlighted the codes of narrative film as endowed with a kind of social reality, constituting an apparent social world and thereby reinforcing hegemonic conditions through repetitions across time. In this way they constitute both reflection and cause ofcultural reproduction, and this paper examines one such code – colour. Australia’s colour use originates in symbolisms that exist ‘outside’ the film, embedded in the consciousness of audience members and beliefs about colour are reinforced by their appearance in an accepted symbolic tradition. Colour use promotes renditions of men and women with differing social standing and power and pertains to different gender performances. These performances are particularly compelling in the female characters because they form a potential through which women can express themselves, and a signal to the audience about ‘correct’ femininity and the different ‘kinds’ of women that patriarchy has declaimed possible.


Parent Title

Future of sociology : Annual Conference of the Australian Sociological Association, ANU, Canberra, 1-4 December 2009

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Australian National University, Canberra


Australian Sociological Association

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Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • No

External Author Affiliations

Conference; Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Health; Not affiliated to a Research Institute;

Era Eligible

  • Yes

Name of Conference

Australian Sociological Association. Conference