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documentaries: synopsis: notes - theatrette

The Choice (2006) Riot or Revolution (2005) Why Men Pay For It (2003) Life is Too Serious (2001)
Big Hair Woman (1997) We're All Independent Now (1995) Deadly Hurt (1994)
The Great Australian Dreaming (1992) Big People Small People (1991) Something You Call Unique (1989)  

Love's Tragedies

Bettina Arndt, social commentator

"Those who are faithful know only the trivial side of love; it is the faithless who know love's tragedies." Oscar Wilde.

"Love's Tragedies" takes its title from a quote from Oscar Wilde's, "The Picture of Dorian Gray". It is an appropriately cheeky, and yet also ironic, opening to a film that certainly shows the tragic side of love gone wrong. Adultery, it seems from the testimony of the 4 main characters in this film, is always doomed. That's not to say it can't also provide you with, as the memorable character Erwin puts it in the film, "memories that will ever live".

"Love's Tragedies" is the third film in a trilogy by Melbourne-based documentary film-maker, Don Parham, on marriage, relationships and gender issues. Parham seems to like working in trilogies, his first 3 docos in the early 90's being on a series of social justice issues ranging from homelessness to the distribution of wealth.

"Love's Tragedies" is a rather quirky documentary that tells a tale of adultery stripped of the glamour and superficiality that usually accompanies portrayals of this subject. It is built around the personal stories of 4 brave individuals who talk frankly about their experiences of adultery.

Helen is the Catholic mother of six whose 28 year marriage ended because of her husband's adultery. John's 20 year marriage ended when his wife had an affair with the man hired to build their new dream home. Naomi thought her parents' 25 year marriage was perfect until her father suddenly ran off with another woman and finally, there's Erwin, who can perhaps best be described as the happy adulterer.

Around these 4 main characters the film sets about analysing the issue of adultery through the collective wisdom of commentator Bettina Arndt, biologist Prof. Roger Short, and a most unusual private eye called Charles.

"Love's Tragedies" digs into the human psyche to understand what is going on in the struggle between faithfulness and unfaithfulness. They are contrary tugs. There are huge forces compelling us in both directions - biological and cultural, individual and social. How do we choose? Is it, in the end, a choice or are we just biologically programmed to behave in certain ways?

Through real characters and their real stories, this is a film that gives us a rich insight into the human side of adultery while also not being afraid to touch on some of the scientific, ethical and moral complexities of the issue.


Alan Bennett