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...

The Consultation

A modern-day romance begins with a rendezvous in a bar between a man and a woman. She is surprisingly frank about her past, he a perfect listener... a professional. (GWC) ... More »

Soviet Cockroach

A Dostoyevsky-esque atmosphere pervades this colourful adventure into a macroscopic world of models, lightboxes and seven - eleven stores. Set to the revolutionary strains of the Peking Philharmonic ... More »

Jazz In The Box

A modern day nightmare. A pregnant woman is too busy to have her baby. A humorous observation of pregnancy. ... More »

Soft

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

Japanese Cowboys

You couldn't be further from the open plains, but that hasn't dimmed the enthusiasm of the guitar plucking, country singing cowboys of Japan. ... Celebrating another example of the Japanese ... More »

Spree

A student film that is erratic and grainy in form and characterised by the arbitrary nature of its subject matter. Ultimately subversive, the coherence of Spree hinges on rapid cutting and ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director