Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Communications Honours


School of Communications and Media Studies


Faculty of Education and Arts

First Supervisor

Keith Smith


Due to various social, international and economic encumbrances, Australian film has made a limited foray into the representation of domestic abuse. A limited number of films have been made on this topic since the early 1970's, and even then, the depiction of this social issue has been watered down and sanitised for mainstream consumption. It is the author's belief that the filmmaker has an important and highly influential opportunity to present a social commentary on issues and must not shirk that responsibility. The film project supported by this exegesis responds to the above concerns and the priority has been to create a film that is both stylistically interesting, and socially confronting. Watermarked combines 'classic' Western genre elements and a deliberately moulded mix of narrative and symbolism. Among other things, the film addresses two perceived flaws of the filmic treatment of this issue to date; namely convenient, uplifting endings and pallid representation of violence. The supporting exegesis begins with a critical history of the depiction of domestic abuse in Australian cinema and how patriarchal structures, together with certain social and economic factors have contributed to what social theorist, Roland Barthes terms, an 'established order' (Barthes, 1972) which controls and perpetuates the situation. It then charts this project's attempt to highlight and subvert this established ·order through scripting and filming choices of content and style. The exegesis concludes by considering the input of a test audience as a means of measuring the effectiveness of the filmic portrayal.