Lon Marum: The People of the Volcano

Soraya Hosni
Filip Talevu
48 minutes

Lon Marum means "the path of the volcano" and when applied to the people of Emyotungan it means the "people who live in the path of the volcano". Such is the profound relationship that the people of Emyotungan and West Ambrym have with the volcano. It exists underneath them, the porous volcanic ash soft underfoot is a low-yielding soil. It towers over them, trapping clouds and billowing out poisonous sulphur dioxide in industrial proportions. And it falls down on them in the form of acid rain ruining crops and destroying gardens. It permeates every corner of their existence informing everything from creation mythology through to current land tenure and kinship systems.

But the phrase Lon Marum also serves as the metaphor describing the relationship between the people of West Ambrym and the physical environment - and this forms the rhizome of the film's narrative. The volcano features in the film - but as a spirit form, something omnipresent but invisible. The treatment of the volcano as a part of the spirit world reflects the cosmology of greater Melanesia where there is little or no distinction or boundary between the spirit world and the physical world. Magic, music, tradition, and dance are a fundamental part of daily life - all distilled through story and often visually accompanied by intricate sand drawings.

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Further Arts