Wrestling, Near You, by Nicole Brady - 15th April
To the outsider, professional wrestling
might look like sheer madness. Grown men in lairy
lycra outfits hurling themselves about a ring
and at each other. To filmmaker Dimitri Ellerington
it is pure athletic opera.
was introduced to the Melbourne wrestling scene
a few years back when a friend took him to a bout
at the Reggio-Calabrian club in Brunswick.
got all the dramatic elements of classic conflicts
you know, good versus bad, betrayal, revenge,
triumph over adversity all that sort of thing,"
Ellerington says by telephone from his Sydney
else introduced him to Mr Damage, a professional
wrestler and promoter, a meeting that led to others
with The Ox (pictured) and Bully the Brawler and
before he knew it Ellerington was hooked. With
the three wrestlers battling for supremacy he
felt he had the makings of a terrific documentary
on his hands.
graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts'
film and television school, Ellerington, 37, started
shooting his film Big Men, Bigger Dreams off his
own bat in 1999. He took a rough cut of a 30-minute
film to SBS, which then funded and assisted him
in fleshing the documentary out from mostly action
scenes into a more detailed look at the people
competing in an intriguing local sport.
result is an entertaining behind-the-scenes look
at how wrestlers like these get their mums to
make their tight pink outfits or practise their
moves with their girlfriends in the front garden.
Interviews with parents flesh out the personas
of people often depicted as boneheads.
is an attempt to break down the stereotype that
wrestlers are thugs who just want to smash each
other over the head. These guys are quite artistic
in their thoughts about their costume and in their
rivalries, and they're quite sensitive to criticism,"
the film illustrates, and the men and their fans
happily acknowledge, much of the wrestling is
choreographed. (Though, as the film also shows,
the script does not always run to plan.) The fakeness
of the ``fight", however, doesn't trouble
anyone, and this is where Ellerington's opera
analogy fits in.
though it's rehearsed, the audience still love
it, it's about the spectacle, really. It's about
the costumes and attitudes and the excessive gestures.
It's athletic opera," he says.
you go and see a Vivaldi performance you may have
seen it before and you know what's going to happen
but you still want to see it again because you
really like the spectacle, and it's the same with
we get glimpses of the audience and the subculture
surrounding Australian professional wrestling,
Ellerington has confined his film to the players.
He says there is another film waiting to be made
about the subculture, he wanted to keep his specific.
senses he is charmed by local wrestling, from
its history to its present incarnation as a sport
with plenty of rough edges.
wrestling isn't like a neat, glossy package. It
hasn't been tainted by too much money or marketing
like American wrestling has . . . it seems to
have a rawness to it, you can see all the frayed
edges that appeal to me a lot. You can get close
enough to the athletes. As entertainment, I reckon
these guys are really trying."
Australia: Big Men, Bigger Dreams screens on Thursday
at 8.30pm on SBS.
Australia - Big Men, Bigger Dreams
Men, Bigger Dreams: Australian Wrestlers
Rackman - 24th March 2004
"TNT" Bownds - 15th January 2004
Tingle - 25th February 2004