The thought of going back to one’s hometown after a not-so nice past can be daunting. The courage of going back is noble given that circumstances are unpredictable, uncertain. But there must be this driving force to go back, the strongest reason to relive a moment.
The Dressmaker shows so much about reviving, reconciling, and reconnecting. This was the driving force for Myrtle Dunnage. A dark past never stopped her from going back to reclaim the life she left, and this includes her mother, her childhood emotionally abandoned, and herself. Her genius in fashion brought her to her goal of reclaiming. And this was pleasurable to watch every scene not for the avenging disgust over the people involved, but the triumph and hope to live a life left scathed from people’s maligning.
What was interesting about this Australian was it surrealist representation of the social life. It was a whole sort of interaction of people, social changes, and riveting realizations.
On Social Changes
When change comes, there is always resistance. Often people refuse to accept to change as this may threaten the status quo, the customs, the traditions, and life. But once this idea of refusal is changed because there is the collective pleasure, the trend that had to occur, making everything acceptable, then the whole process of change happens.
Some people tend to be laggards, or those who constantly refuse change. There are those who join the bandwagon, the so called general public. There are those who transform everything, the game-changers. Commonly, these are the ones with a high need for achievement, high level of dopamine, and beyond the normal. In film’s case, there is character who persistently pursues her goals because of the need of reclaim, but her sense of creativity was used. She wasn’t just the normal in the group.
Change occurs with refusal. This then is accepted once the group define it as real and “okay” if I were to quote the sociologist W.I. Thomas. And it was just such beauty to see how the community transforms on to the end of the spectrum.
On Functionality and Customs
In terms of function, there is a whole sense of order in the small community. The lagging sense of style, the mindset, the beliefs system, the gossiping, and power in place play important roles in maintaining the social strata. But one change just destroys everything. Any revolution is started by one source of change. Advocates and activists rally their hearts out in the streets to transform society. If their idea sells, then change will get into the process, into a development toward the end result.
Gender Roles and Society
Dressmaking was instrumental in the film. It wasn’t just to show the fashion acumen of Tilly. It was to show that despite society’s normative subjugation of women, a woman can still change notions, beliefs, and cultures. Besides power, the interaction of men and women was such a pleasure. Women definitely played a clear role in making society. Men tend to stay in the sidelines while they play big roles with authority.
Above all else, the film was about reclaiming. “You can transform people. Use it.” This was the strongest line in the film. Change occurs because there is that gift to change, to transform, and to make things better.