Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

Australian movie (1988). BCB/Seon. Pr Gordon Glenn, Timothy White. Exec pr Bryce Menzies. Dir Ann Turner. Screenplay Turner. Starring Claire Couttie (Heather), Nicholas Eadie (Ray Carmichael), Mary-Anne Fahey (Pat Carmichael), Amelia Frid (Stephanie), Victoria Langley (Alice Tanner), Margaret Ricketts (Granny), Rebecca Smart (Celia), William Zappa (Sgt John Burke). 103 mins. Colour.

In order to counter the vicissitudes of life in 1957 Australia, ignore her father's adulterous tendencies, and cope with the petty persecutions of local police Sergeant Burke, 9-year-old Celia indulges in fantasies, forming a Voodoo culture with her likewise persecuted friends the Tanners – whose sin is that their parents were once communists – and speaking with the Ghost of her recently deceased grandmother. But her fantasy world is shaded by the lurking figures of the Hobyahs, slithery Monsters drawn from one of her school story-books. At last the Hobyahs begin intruding into real life: when Celia finds Sergeant Burke is one she kills him with her father's shotgun. C can be seen as a quieter (and arguably more effective) treatment of some of the themes of William Golding's The Lord of the Flies (1954) (another, quite different, resonance is with The Curse of the Cat People [1944]), but it goes further, probing also the origins of Fantasy as not merely Escapism but defence, a deliberate or unconscious switching of Perceptions in order to make sense of an unpredictable world: the description of the Hobyahs as randomly vicious monsters who persecute without reason or warning could equally apply to most of the adults in Celia's world. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.