Radiance: Deborah Mailman re-enacts Madama Butterfly
In this scene from Radiance (1998), Nona (Deborah Mailman) plays a recording of her famous opera-singer sister Cressy (Rachael Maza) singing 'Un bel dì, vedremo' from Puccini's Madama Butterfly.
Nona lip-syncs to the recording and re-enacts a tragic scene from the opera, as Cressy and Mae (Trisha Morton-Thomas) watch in amusement.
The scene reinforces Nona's reverence of her talented and accomplished sister, despite a long period of separation. It follows a scene where Nona thwarts Cressy's attempts to leave by making sure she misses her flight.
The NFSA completed a full digital restoration of Radiance in 2021.
Three sisters reunite for the funeral of their mother after having not seen each other for an extended period of time.
Radiance Curator’s notes
Based on the play of the same name by Louis Nowra, Radiance is the third feature film directed by an Indigenous person, following Jindalee Lady and BeDevil. The film explores the relationship between Mae (Trisha Morton-Thomas), Cressy (Rachael Maza) and Nona (Deb Mailman), and is one of the rare times in cinematic history that the emotional interior of the lives of Indigenous women have been explored, especially in a feature film format. The significance of cultural identity falls away to reveal three central characters who are concerned with notions of family, belonging, and home. Radiance is Perkins’ first feature film, and has won many awards.
Notes by Romaine Moreton