Skip to main content

BREATHING UNDER WATER

Australia, 1991 (MIFF 1992)

Director: Susan Murphy Dermody

Why on earth has humankind set the stage for its own extinction? Why bring a child into a world threatened by the horror of nuclear war and massive environmental destruction? These are the answers sought by Beatrice (Anne Louise Lambert) after the birth of her daughter Maeve (Maeve Dermody, the director's daughter) in this challenging, stylis­tically brazen feature film debut by author, critic and academic Susan Murphy Dermody.

With the mysterious guide Herman (Kristoffer Greaves) and a map borrowed from Dante, Beatrice enters an imaginary under­ground, an inverted city, to negotiate her way through a terrain of dreams, memories and strange images washed up from the past. Their quest begins at a Sydney bus stop (why not?) and ends on an Australian beach (where else?). Along the way, the viewer is transported, via re-processed archival footage, animation (by Lee Whitmore) and dramatic sequences, to a world of childhood memories of wonder, fear and imagination.

"Breathing Under Water is passionate film­making. In the form of an argument, an imagi­native intellectual essay, it attacks the 'curse' of needing to know which has come to father the unthinkable science which has expelled a vehi­cle careening toward destruction...Breathing Under Wafer is a bold synthesis of imagination and intellectualization, of images of beauty, of horror and fear which are bound to the words (too obscure, I think, sometimes) of a fiercely passionate argument. See it and stay unmoved!"

See also...

A Passion Play

This first film (the only Australian short film to be invited to Cannes this year) by visual artist Tony Twigg, is a highly structured piece which uses basic animation techniques to set up a change ... More »

Philadelphia

A journey, knowing little, but with high hopes, towards a city we must reach - Philadelphia. ... More »

Final Payment

A farmhouse in New South Wales and a man and woman lie dead from gunshot wounds. Forensic scientists begin to reconstruct the crime, but somehow the clues don't add up. The time of death becomes ... More »

Soft

When the atmosphere of colour/vibration simultaneously unifies and fragments, reality is merely perceptual. ... More »

Serendipity Blues

Coloured liquids travelling in reverse support a paper dog's head, happy to simulate an unearthed spermatozoa on its way to a silk pyjama party. Which side of silk is most tense and receptive to the ... More »

Long Shadows

The red-washed openmg passage of Paul Win­kler's new him is mesmeric, it is almost numb­ing, the Long Shadows of its title could be those of a sunset, those at the last daylight of time They ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director