Australian
Screen

an NFSA website



Palace of Dreams (1985)

  1. Feeling very moved having just re-watched this mini series for the first time since it was broadcast when I was a teenager. I am now very curious whether the character and writing of Tom is based on any particular writer of the era?

    A side point - but why is a synopsis rarely very accurate? This one follows the pattern of making things up that sound good but aren't really the gist of the story. The Overview page caption: "arrives in Sydney from the country only to be caught up in the turbulent and desperate times of the Great Depression"... makes it sound as though the depression started when he got there and had not affected him in the country, when it was in fact the reason he had left his family's farm in the first place. In fact he left to find work in the city only to discover there turbulence and desperation far greater etc...

    Also, I am quite certain Tom was introduced to European literature not at the Mendel's but in Gundagai by a close friend and mentor whose name I can't remember Dr someone. Tom repeatedly refers to the literature he has read, even studied, prior to moving to Sydney.

    And whilst it is definitely true Tom learned about Jewish culture through the Mendels, I think the Mendel's learned about Australian character, not because Tom helped them, but because they were in the midst of it there in Sydney. Tom may have had a small part specifically as a boy from the country, but only alongside the umpteen regulars who frequented the bar on a daily basis and shared their stories, struggles, and spirit of survival. Tom's impact on the family was surely more that of a personal friend, who's honesty and kind hearted nature was pivotal in the story. I didn't think he was meant to be representative of the Australian character broadly, and was more of an exception to the rule seeing as he had educated himself whilst working on the land, and aspired to be a writer rather than a worker. The Australian character is much stronger as a point of identity in minor players, Kitty for example, 'the quintessential Aussie battler'.

    Far from being 'caught up' in the turbulence Tom is twice rescued and always protected from the desperation around him. This is, I think, what is unique about the story. The way the character Tom, with a level of political and religious openness and almost neutrality, and from the protective safety of his place with the Mendel's, is exposed to political upheaval from all sides driven by those he connects with. This manner of education through close friends seems to be the pattern of his life, which began back in Gundagai, and we feel it will continue as he embarks on his journey over sea to follow his dreams.

    How I wish there had been a second series!

  2. #1 from Alegria – 8 years, 11 months ago.
  3. Hi Alegria, I'm glad you enjoyed the mini-series. Thanks also for your lengthy comment about the interpretation of the synopsis. We've amended the Overview short synopsis accordingly. Stephen Groenewegen, Online Editor at NFSA.

  4. #2 from Editor – 8 years, 11 months ago.
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