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Portrayal of the Theme of Discovery in the Documentary Frank Hurley and Short Story Big World

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New discoveries are necessary in instigating one’s personal growth, as they often lead to reformed perceptions, in turn encouraging the development of new values and beliefs. Simon Nasht’s documentary Frank Hurley: The Man Who Made History (2004) and Tim Winton’s short, coming of age story Big World (2004) both encapsulate this fundamental nature of discovery, emphasising how by encouraging individuals to challenge their beliefs, discovering for the first time can lead individuals to form a meaningful perception of the world, which can be purposeful in ways that can lead to individuals responding in ways that are emotional and intellectual. Nasht’s documentary is the product of his curiosity regarding the career of controversial war photographer, Frank Hurley, and reflects his first time discovery of his photography in a way which challenges the audience’s perception on Hurley, urging them to reconsider their view of the world, ultimately helping individuals to grow intellectually.

Nasht demonstrates his intellectual growth as he learns more about Hurley, through fast cut shots of his interviews with experts on their conflicting views on Hurley’s fraudulence, “a conjurer with a camera,” “a master of the medium. ” The audience hence understands the complexity of making intellectual discoveries, as they are compelled to form their own opinion on Hurley’s fraudulence, as they are pushed to do so through being fed multiple, informed, conflicting views all at once, ultimately pushing the audience to form their own stance on the matter. Moreover, Nasht’s voiceover for Hurley’s diary justifies his deception, “It was impossible to capture full effect of this bloody war without composites… It would be unfair to the soldiers. ” The emotional tone and language of “unfair,” prompts the audience to consider Hurley’s good intentions as trying to best depict the experiences of the soldiers, ultimately challenging the audience’s morals by prompting them to question whether deception is acceptable in certain situations, allowing them to redefine their own perception of deception. Such self-discovery and understanding of oneself ultimately stimulates the audience’s intellectual growth.

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Therefore, by prompting the audience to consider whether or not Hurley’s actions were justifiable for the first time, Nasht encourages reflection and re-evaluation of people’s understanding of truth, allowing individuals to grow intellectually due to expanding their knowledge on their own values. Nasht highlights the importance of the human urge to explore the unknown, thus emphasising the significance of first time discoveries in deepening one’s understanding of themselves and the world, leading to intellectual and emotional development. Nasht portrays this through depicting the moments of Hurley’s life discoveries which profoundly impacted his emotional ad intellectual growth, namely his many first time expeditions such as those to Papua New Guinea and Antarctica. Sequential footage of such events through jungles on an ancient map highlights the desire of the human spirit to succumb to curiosity and seek the unknown, and how this leads to the development of one’s own unique perspectives, due to maps being connotated with adventure and curiosity. Furthermore, Nasht positively portrays the joy for travel and discovery likely experienced by Hurley through diegetic music becoming more dramatic overlaying the image of an iceberg, as this evokes a sense of wonder and adventure.

The panning shot of the green mountains at Macquarie Island combined with the emphatic narration that Hurley was “stunned by the power of nature” evokes an atmosphere of curiosity, ultimately exhibiting his natural urge to explore the previously unexperienced. Moreover, Hurley’s diary voiceover, “I could stay here for the rest of my life,” encapsulates Hurley’s character as an individual drawn towards the wild an unknown, as he becomes almost dedicated to learning about the island, consequent to his admiration for it. This is because of the narrator’s admitting and adamant tone regarding his desire to stay in Macquarie Island. Thus, the various emotions Hurley gains as a result of his travels, such as joy and admiration, exhibit his emotional growth whilst this understanding of his love for nature and travel illustrates Hurley’s intellectual growth, as this signifies he is learning more about himself. Therefore, the audience is compelled to reflect upon how a very first discovery may have aided their intellectual and emotional growth, by prompting them to seek experiences allowing them to learn more about the world around them. Winton demonstrates that discovering for the first time can lead to new perceptions of oneself and others, allowing for intellectual and emotional growth. Nasht displays this through the protagonist’s transformed view of himself and his friend Biggie, following their very first post high school road trip, whereby the protagonist grew intellectually through making greater discoveries about Biggie’s character. Before the road trip, Winton conveys that the protagonist was consumed by his friendship with Biggie through the repetitive use of inclusive language in a motif, highlighting their strong bond, “Biggie and me,” “we’ll be free. ” However, Winton highlights that the protagonist no longer values his friendship with Biggie, as he sees Biggie in a new, negative light. This is made apparent through the metaphor of “the kite that had consumed its own tail and fluttered down into the sea,” symbolising Biggie’s self-sabotaging lifestyle which the protagonist discovers intellectually, as he realises Biggie’s lack of maturity during their road trip, as the kite fluttering evokes the image of the decline and ultimately failure. This transformation illustrates that this intellectual discovery has significantly aided the protagonist’s personal growth, especially when it is contrasted with how much he used to value their friendship.

Moreover, the protagonist’s realisation that he can live independently without Biggie represents his emotional growth, “The world grows bigger and we just give in and watch,” serving as a symbol for the endless opportunities that can arise from independence, as when the world figuratively “grows bigger,” so do the opportunities and adventures which can take place within it. Thus, like Nasht, Winton presents a protagonist making major intellectual revelations about himself following a physical journey. The audience is consequently compelled to consider how new experiences can heighten one’s intellectual and emotional understanding of others and themselves. Therefore, Simon Nasht’s documentary Frank Hurley: The Man Who Made History (2004) and Tim Winton’s short story Big World (2004) both illustrate how encouraging individuals to challenge their beliefs enables them to create meaningful perceptions of the world which can be purposeful both emotionally and intellectually.


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