The men of the fifth world

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My visual art research paper seeks to examine the film documentary, “The Men of the Fifth World”, aiming to out more about the first people in the continent of Australia and how they lived in their community setting. A documentary is a motion picture depicting real-life events that happened at one time. It is meant to educate on a topic at hand and provide more information on actual life events (Mulvey, 1975, p. 16). The ‘men of the fifth world’ is a documentary about the people some of the Australians in their own land. The film features the indigenous inhabitants of Australia long before the white men invaded their ground (“The men of the fifth world,” 2013).There were a large number of tribes that were dwelling on the continent. This documentary provides more knowledge about their lifestyle and way of life. Moreover, it aims to give the audience an insight into the events that took place between the indigenous inhabitants of Australia and the white men.

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The indigenous men got absorbed into the culture of the white men, and this caused them to lose their traditions together with their identity. The aboriginal people were not able to practice their culture, and they were pushed from their ancestral dwelling place and forced to live in reserves. Similarly, this specific documentary narrates the life of the aboriginal people in Australia as the white men referred to them back then (Burridge, 2014, p. 139). The Aboriginal people appreciated their land and their animals which were of great value to their history and livelihood. They practiced hunting and gathering as their way of life and a way to sustain them. Each member of the society in the tribe had different roles and responsibilities based on their sex and age. The men usually hunted during the war, while women handled simple activities such as looking for medicinal plants and wild fruits from the forest.

The indigenous people made traditional songs and poems that every one of them understood by word. They used to sing the traditional songs alongside musical instruments made by themselves. These songs depicted a specific path around the forest or the river bed and even in their terrain. The indigenous from a long time ago during the time of their ancestors used to live in the caves that were beside the ocean; the caves still have the paintings and drawings that their forefathers painted thousands of years ago. The aboriginal people can see from the illustrations in the caves from their forefathers, the type of life that their ancestors led, with the kind of animals that they hunted and the kind of food they consumed.

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The natives used to dance to music played by musical instruments made by the same musicians. Every instrument was obtained from the forest and further decorated to make them look more appealing. Everybody in the community from the young to the old was involved in the dancing ceremony; the dance from the men in the village was more vigorous compared to the dance done by the women. During the dancing they would be in a kind of a trance since they would be in communication with the spirits, taking control (World, 2017). The life of the aboriginal people was quite simple before the first white man stepped foot into their country. The white men would later change the name of their country and even perceive the land as theirs while alienating the indigenous people from their settlement and drive them into other arrangements.

The native people were living peacefully before the white men disrupted their lives; they were forced to live as squatters in their land. There was a limitation of their rights to be free and leave unthreatened in the only place they knew as their home. This is shown through, their confinement to specific areas of their country, as prisoners (World, 2017). The white men are the ones who invaded their country since they left their own countries behind to go and make conquests on people living under their laws and their traditions. Through the documentary, we can see that the white men felt superior to the aboriginals of the area. Similarly, the natives felt inferior to them and could not fight back since they even had better weapons compared to the handmade spears the indigenous people had.

The natives go to interact and communicate with each other in the community, through the singing and playing of instruments. The interaction made their bond and ties even stronger as the songs were religious by what they believed. Moreover, the songs had a traditional tune that reminded them to be true to themselves and their culture. Any musician in the community could play the tunes, and everybody would sing along to them. This bonded them to the culture, while at the same time giving them hope of liberation and a better life in the future. The tunes of the musical instruments from their songs provide the audience a sense of happiness and freedom which depicts the way people felt before the white men invaded their home (Burridge, 2014, p.142). They felt free and wholly immersed in their culture and traditional beliefs, a feeling that was now under threat by the white man and his big guns.

Transcendental Narrative

A transcendental narrative seeks to project the journey of how something started and its course in getting to where it is, up to the end. This type of narrative aims to seize occasions in our life journey, unplanned and unexpected. When life takes a change due to changes that occur, such a narrative can happen. It further goes beyond the regular cinemas, containing elements such as conflict, resolution, cause, and effect. (Knudsen, 2008, p. 113). The transcendental narrative tends to create a twist in a story; making it less predictable as compared to a classic tale where one can be able to tell the outcome of a story. Through a transcendental narrative, clear details stretch up to the end, along with the capture of every event.

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“Men of the Fifth Word,” presents a credible example, regarding the implementation of this narrative. Typically, we did not have it in mind that the aboriginals would have their land taken away being sent out to reserves. This ideally was unpredictable and unforeseen from the beginning. The documentary holds a real representation of the life journey and experiences of the narrator. The experiences are captured from the start to the end regarding every event that took place at a particular time his life. The main character appears to be a tribesman and a leader among his people who had very vast knowledge about his community’s traditions and culture (“The men of the fifth world,” 2013). With his enlightenment, he played the role of a community leader that unified his kin through the enrichment of the communities’ culture. The elderly leaders made sure that all the beliefs and traditions passed down hereditary. Further, they hoped that their young children would benefit from the teaching and as such, pass it to the next generation.


“Men of the Fifth World” documentary educates the audience on the cultural diversity present in the world. This cultural diversity enables us to appreciate the differences in all people, which presents them unique from the rest of us. The Australian culture is vibrant and ancient, being present from the time of the ancestors. Their culture is full of untapped history that was not known to the world before. Furthermore, the indigenous people of Australia kept their culture alive by chanting songs and dances that carried on their traditions for generations even after the invasion and assimilation. Their cultural songs provided a reminder of who they were, enabling them to maintain their identity.

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  1.  “The Men of the Fifth World” (full documentary). (2013, April 19). Retrieved from
  2. Knudsen, Erik. 2008. “Transcendental realism in documentary.” P.108-120.
  3. Mulvey, Laura (1975) ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’, Screen 16:3 (Autumn 1975) P.6-18
  4. Burridge, K., 2014. Encountering Aborigines: a case study: anthropology and the Australian Aboriginal. Elsevier: P. 139-142
  5. World, T. (2017). The Men of the Fifth World. [online] Top Documentary Films. Available at:  [Accessed 30th Nov. 2017].
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