Camera Natura uses an essay mode to deconstruct the discourses around the nonaboriginal imaging of the landscape. The film had its origins in director/writer Ross Gibson’s writings, in particular his essays ‘‘Camera Natura: Landscape in Australian Feature Films’’ and ‘‘Geography and Gender,’’ which appear in rewritten form in his book South of the West (1992). Gibson used images from films such as The Sons of Matthew (1949), Gallipoli (1981), Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), and Mad Max II (1981) in Camera Natura to answer the question he set for himself in the initial article:
‘‘What can the preoccupation [with the landscape] tell us about Australian culture, cinematic and general?’’ Gibson’s essaying in this film involved the same elliptical image-voice relationship that is evident in the seminal role model for this mode: Chris Marker’s Sunless (1983), except that Camera Natura exhibits a critical poesy informed by a postcolonial and deconstructionist examination of Australian film culture evident in several independent films of the early to mid-1980s. These include Helen Grace’s Serious Undertakings (1983) and Tracey Moffatt’s Nice Coloured Girls (1987).