Real Life: Democracy


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1984, 75 Minutes

An ironic look at the art and business of political electioneering when a citizen, the local chemist, stands for Federal Parliament.

Government, politics, elections - the wielding of power in western democracies is perceived by many as glamorous. Real Life here takes an ironic look at the humdrum, nuts and bolts, and often downright absurdity of the art and business of elections. It is a look at Australia in 1984 choosing its political fate - a seemingly portentous situation - and here are party leaders and parliamentary hopefuls shaking thousands of hands, putting up how-to-vote signs, chatting in shopping centres and repeating themselves ad infinitum on the media.  

It is against this capricious background that Democracy follows the ups and downs of an uninitiated Labor candidate running for a marginal Liberal seat in a suburban electorate of Sydney - the seat of Cook. From pre-selection through to election night, when the chips are down, we observe a man of the people - the local chemist - “a top guy” - coping with backroom manoeuvring and making crucial decisions about campaign tactics. We see him through the branch’s hard-working party faithfuls struggling with limited resources and we see him in awkward meetings with his party leader Prime Minister Bob Hawke and leading lights Paul Keating and Bill Hayden.  

Intercut with the grassroots activities of the campaign trail are the more grand media manipulations of the different parties’ top publicity machines. In this way Democracy shows the range of personalities and egos that make up an election: rock star Peter Garrett of Midnight Oil standing on an anti-nuclear platform, anti-abortionist Fred Nile representing the Festival of Light, and Don Chipp as leader of the Democrats.

Democracy is a brilliant film essay that leaves us with cause for serious concern as it calls into question many of our comfortable assumptions about the virtues of democracy.

© 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.




Director: Graham Chase

Year: 1984

Running Time: 75 Minutes

Classification: Exempt from classification

Curriculum Links: Australian Studies, Civics and Citizenship, English, Film Studies, HSIE, Media Studies, Politics, SOSE.


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SKU 198402201
Brand Film Australia

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