First Person: Barnaby Spielberg goes to the movies

“What’s your name?” 

Barnaby Joyce has always been theatrical. It’s part of his style, and once was part of his charm. He was larger than life, his booming message reached out to those sitting in the back rows.

He shot a little movie this week and released it on social media. Did you see it?

It was great. Set outside a church, it’s a real-life drama shot in an arty European style.

The plot is simple. Joyce, having had a gutful of the paparazzi, was demanding to know the photographer’s name. The photographer was disguised as a snake and had been hiding in the bushes.

“What’s your name?” Joyce asked over and over again (about 19 times at last count). Yes, the dialogue was a little repetitive, but it had intensity.

It reminded me a lot of another film, The Crucible, an adaptation of the Arthur Miller play.

In that film the Daniel Day-Lewis character, who has had an affair with a younger woman that worked for him (played by the fetching Winona Ryder) is the victim of a witch hunt.

At the end of the film, our hero has to decide whether to sign a confession that he’s been involved in some black magic or face the gallows.

He signs the confession, but then dramatically rips it up, saying he can’t put his name to a lie, because that would diminish his name, and what is a man without his name?

“You can’t take my name,” he cries out. 

He says that quite a few times (but not 19 times).

And that made me think long and hard about Joyce’s film.

Maybe I got it wrong. Maybe he wasn’t asking the photographer his name at all. I mean it was Joyce who was actually filming, right? 

Perhaps he was talking to himself when he was saying, “What’s your name?”

Maybe he was undergoing an existential crisis in which he had metaphorically lost his name, lost his good name, lost the very sense of who he was.

Hmmm, a psychological thriller.

I think a better ending to the film would have had Barnaby saying (for the 19th time), “What’s your name?”, and the paparazzi answers  “Barnaby Joyce!”

Whaooo! And everybody stands really still, and the music goes “do doo do dooooo”. Fade to black. 

Simon Bourke is a Fairfax journalist