Uncanny Carnage in Peter Weir’s ‘The Cars That Ate Paris’

Rebecca Johinke

Abstract


This article examines Australia’s first car crash film: Peter Weir’s ‘The Cars That Ate Paris’ (1974). An example of Australian Gothic cinema, the film’s dark humour and onscreen carnage acts as a destabilising rhetorical strategy. Automobiles operate as a remarkably flexible organising metaphor in the film where they act as both technological storks and agents of death. This essay interrogates the way that Weir aligns immobile crashed cars with Parisian/Australian culture and with liminal male bodies. It argues that the characters and cars are manifested as uncanny hybrids with both zoomorphic and anthropomorphic qualities. Weir parodies many of the myths about Australia and Australians in this film and in doing so he encourages viewers to consider constructions of nationality and identity.

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