Blu-ray Review: Celia

Celia in class

While the Cold War pitted the United States of America against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, its influence spread to every corner of the world. One of the more unlikely battlegrounds was Australia. The Communist Party of Australia was formed in the 1920s, reached their political peak during World War II, were banned in the 1940s and entered a steady decline during the next decades. Anti-communist rhetoric and witch-hunts were prevalent during the 1950s. Celia exists within this world.

After the death of her beloved grandmother (Margaret Ricketts), nine-year-old Celia (Rebecca Smart) finds herself adrift, caught between a violent childhood world which she doesn’t connect with and the unfathomability of adulthood. When the Tanners move in next door, she finally seems to have found friends her age. However, while creatures haunt her dreams at night an invisible threat stalks the daylight hours.

Celia is an intriguing slice of Cold War paranoia which uses the ‘menace’ posed by rabbits to act as an analogy for the ‘red peril’. It’s an offbeat and darkly brutal tale of childhood and the rampant conservatism which took hold of the country during the 1950s. As with other Australian ‘horrors’ of the era, Ann Turner’s film can be a difficult watch at times and definitely pulls no punches. Celia is a dark and claustrophobic Cold War chiller. Watership Down Under.

Special features:

  • Presented from a new 2K restoration by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
  • Celia’s World (2021): a new, exclusive and expansive documentary on the film’s background and legacy made specially for this release by director Ann Turner.
  • A filmed interview with Ann Turner.
  • There’s Something About ‘Celia’ (2021): Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of 1000 Women in Horror, in conversation with Maria Lewis at the Australian Centre for Moving Image, Melbourne.
  • Extensive photo gallery.
  • Booklet featuring essays by film historian Michael Brooke and professor Joy Damousi, and ‘The Hobyahs’, a traditional folktale featured in the film.
  • Region free Blu-ray (A/B/C).
  • World premiere on Blu-ray.

Celia is released on Blu-ray by Second Run on 18 October.   

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