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The People's Will - AusCivics Critique and Review Series

  • 40791
  • 8 Years Ago
Media description: Two scenes from the movie Cromwell (Columbia Pictures1970) where Oliver Cromwell and King Charles 1, argue their differing political ideologies. MEDIA CONTEXT Oliver Cromwell (Richard Harris) is the lead character in the Columbia Pictures film, Cromwell. Based on the historical figure's life and the tumultuous events of 17th Century England, during the reign of Charles Stuart 1 (Alec Guinness), the viewer follows Cromwell on an emotion charged journey. As a strict Puritan -- having, according to historians, converted to that faith in his 30s -- Cromwell seeks to do what he understands to be God's will in establishing an English democracy, where Parliament would act upon the will of the people and not for its own interests, or that of the monarch's. Cromwell is depicted as one rising from relative obscurity to taking effective leadership of an army during years of civil war, then on to being dubbed Lord Protector of the nation -- after usurpation of the monarchy. From historical accounts it is thought Cromwell played only a minor role in Parliament, but he is portrayed by director Ken Hughes as a prime mover in the execution of King Charles 1 and thereafter the purging of Parliament. In the Columbia Pictures film Cromwell obtains personal audience with the king on several occasions where they debate their opposing views of proper government. MEDIA CRITIQUE Do the film makers present an accurate character portrayal of the historical figure Oliver Cromwell? Does the film Cromwell demonstrate the political events of the period accurately? Most historians struggle to form solid conclusions about what exactly caused the civil war. What degree of involvement in events is the viewer left feeling Cromwell had? Does this align with the consensus among historians? Is the portrayal of King Charles 1 as a man of wavering principles -- at once a loving husband and father, then a harsh, calculating ruler -- a fair representation of what is known about this king? ANALYSIS & REVIEW 1. According to the Australian Constitution, what role does Queen Elizabeth 2 play in the government of Australia? 2. Using the 21 August, 2010 Federal Election as an example, discuss how the current Australian system may be considered a "true representation of a free people." 3. Consider the implications of a military regime as opposed to a "constitutional government", e.g. Fiji. 4. If a time did come when "parliament no longer represent[ed] the people of this nation," what constitutional power do Australian citizens have to ensure a true representation? Discuss. THE AUSTRALIAN CONSTITUTION & AUSTRALIA TODAY The Protectorate under Cromwell followed a civil war and had many flaws, but it also laid the foundations for future systems of English government. Unlike England and many other countries, Australia didn't need a civil war or period of great unrest to achieve Federation and a workable constitution. This is a remarkable feat achieved by building on the learning of the past. Do you feel that Australian's, in general, have enough appreciation of the traditions and heritage on which our constitution and our way of life are based? PERSONAL APPLICATION As an individual do you feel that you have a sufficient appreciation of the traditions and heritage on which our constitution and our way of life are based? Is there something you could do personally (preferably not for a school assignment) to gain a greater awareness of Australia's constitutional heritage? What is it?

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