Director: John Duigan
Screenwriters: John Duigan

Institute History

  • 1994 Sundance Film Festival


John Duigan is one of the most appealing and most interesting directors working in the cinema today, not. as you might assume, a necessarily perfect match. And in Sirens, he demonstrates why. The Anglican church in Australia is scandalized by a series of paintings by a controversial artist, Norman Lindsay, played by Sam Neill. Especially offensive is the sacrilegious figure of a voluptuous, naked woman crucified on a cross. A young clergyman and his wife, freshly arrived from England, are dispatched to try to persuade Lindsay to withdraw the painting from an upcoming international exhibition. When they arrive, the couple, played by Hugh Grant and Tara Fitzgerald, encounter a bohemian universe completely at odds with the newly liberal, but still Victorian, mores from which they've come.

Three young models Sheela, Prue and Giddy—are pan of an extended family within which nude bathing or posing, vibrant and strong-willed conversation. and provocative questioning are all natural, even expected, behavior. At first reticent, Estella gradually falls under the Influence of the enticements of its new world and begins to be troubled by strange and disturbing dreams. As her husband vainly attempts to prevail on Lindsay, she becomes Increasingly interested in a mysterious, muscular stranger who inhabits the nearby woods, as well as the liberated activities of everyone around her. Her dreams Intensify, and a personal crisis and transformation result.

Although the conflict between bohemian and Victorian value systems is certainly a subject we've seen on the screen before. Duigan's treatment of it is particularly Invigorating and thought provoking. Operating on a multitude of levels, this is a film which engages you intellectually and narratively, erotically and emotionally Its libertine sensibilities confront exactly the Issues that puritanical forces are loath to deal with. Often surprising. always stimulating, Sirens is a cinematic feast.

Wednesday Jan 26 9:00 pm
Prospector Square Theatre

Thursday Jan 27 1:00 pm
Egyptian Theatre

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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