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Review: New John Pilger film, Utopia

UTOPIA  is one of the best documentaries I have seen in a long time, a masterpiece. 2 hours, packed with extensive, historic, political and economic analysis of the conditions of the first Australians. Utopia does not just present the answers to the horrific question of 'what', but also, and more importantly, it gives the viewers a great insight to the more crucial question of 'why?'

Throughout this epic film, there are hugely important, internationalist views on imperialism, nationalism, racism and the nature of big business, as well as a proper trashing of the sell-out nature of reformist politics - the Australian Labour Party. Confronted with such powerful enemies, it seems that, whatever very small gains the first Australians made for - even slightly - bettering their lives and conditions, they have made it through their own fight and resistance, rather than petty handouts by the Australian establishment. And it is clear that whatever the Australian governments promised over many years, there is still no real political will to address the serious issues which are still present today.

John Pilger focuses in great detail on institutional/state racism. Describing his film, he says "It will describe not only the uniqueness of the first Australians, but their trail of tears and betrayal and resistance - from one utopia to another". One could add to John Pilger's definition that this is also a film about the evermore rising state racism. At a time when the world leaders are celebrating the legacy of Nelson Mandela, it becomes even more important to expose state racism and its horrific methods.

All of the issues above are also - without hesitation - linked to the wider class issues and struggle, which makes this documentary even more important. These days, documentaries like Utopia and the political debates they create are greatly important and much needed.

Alongside the deep analysis of the issues presented in UTOPIA, there are two examples for a specific lesson for people in every other country around the world. Arguable, some of the key moments in the film are the two strikes by the cotton field peasants and the cattle workers: At a time and in an environment, where not even the basic 'Western style' industrial relationships and the most basic workers' rights existed, workers who got organized and went on strikes for better working conditions won their fights against their exploiters. It was hugely uplifting to see how these poor and horribly discriminated people could get organized and win against the international big business directly supported by the Australian government. And this is very relevant for people everywhere in the world. The first Australians did not just leave behind their trail of tears and stories of betrayal but also a hope and an important lesson on how to fight back against oppression.

No, this documentary does not make you just emotional or sad. It goes beyond these important human feelings; it adds another very natural humanly response into the mix; it makes you wanting to fight against oppression, racism and injustice. Hearing the brilliant arguments from an ordinary first Australian, a worker who never had the level of education or the wages of an apathetic trade union bureaucrat or a well spoken political elite, makes you think of what else we the decent people could achieve when we collectively put our hand, hearths and minds into something...

Through his films, John Pilger made a lot of people 'international brothers and sisters', who previously didn't know each other and of other's pain and suffering. It is this relationship that matters when it comes to building a better world for ordinary decent people and bringing about justice to our long suffering first Australian brothers and sisters.
It is this relationship that the oppressors of the world are so afraid of.

UTOPIA is a must. Get it, watch it and discuss it. But also put the lessons learned into action, wherever you are, whatever you are doing and whatever the oppression is.

Thank you John Pilger for giving us the truth, full of sadness and hope; as life is.

UTOPIA (2013)
Written, produced and presented by John Pilger
Directed by John Pilger & Alan Lowery
Edited by Joe Frost
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