In this paper the authors' primary concern is to outline the cultural and spatial boundaries delineated in the representation of children and childhood in a selection of Australian feature films. To this end they explore in some depth the depiction of children's worlds in three films: The Kid Stakes (1927), Smiley (1956), and Storm Boy (1976). The analysis canvasses class, gender, race and ethnic, as well as geographic, boundaries. These films demonstrate the historicity of the concept of childhood in Australian cinema. They show how over time the boundaries between children and adults became blurred and, while free movement through the landscape was maintained, children's worlds became more restricted and emotionally laden. In Weberian terms, childhood became increasingly disenchanted. These findings are supported by childhood research based on other approaches and sources. At the same time the authors contextualize the films under discussion and begin the larger task of constructing a map of the two genres of Australian feature films concerning childhood: children's films and films about children. To this end, the paper traces the brief prominence of the child as central character in The Kid Stakes, through the 1950s when there was something of a 'golden age' of films about children, to the re-emergence of child-centred films in the 1970s.
Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education Vol. 43, Issue 1, p. 135-149