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The Dream and the Dreaming (2003)


A documentary about the arrival of the Lutheran missionaries in 1877 in central Australia.

Curator’s notes

The Dream and the Dreaming describes the establishment of the Hermannsburg mission (now known as Ntaria), 130 kilometres west of Alice Springs in the land of the Arrernte people. This documentary provides a strong context for both the religious beliefs of the Arrernte peoples as well as the Lutherans, who introduced the biblical text to the land of the Arrernte that is totally inhabited by their totemic Ancestors. The Lutherans, who set out for central Australia at the beginning of summer, were challenged by the landscape as well as the strength of the Arrernte peoples in their culture and traditions, and for many years the Lutherans made no converts.

The Dream and the Dreaming presents a good background to the shelter the mission provided the Arrernte people during the period in which Indigenous peoples were being shot and killed in great numbers in the area. The script for The Dream and the Dreaming is well written, providing equal weight to the perspective of both the Lutherans and the Arrernte peoples, and in this we are able to understand the clash of cultures that eventuated from these two groups coming into contact. The creators of The Dream and the Dreaming said that 'Too often the debate surrounding reconciliation grinds to a halt, lost in the rhetoric of villains and victims’, and this documentary provides a way of understanding how two different cultures managed to co-exist for 150 years.

The script for The Dream and the Dreaming was nominated for best script in the Religious and Ethics category at the 2003 AWGIE awards.