David Stratton's Stories of Australian Cinema

The cinematic release of the source material is entitled David Stratton: A Cinematic Life (Sally Aitken, 2017). I haven't yet seen the film, but it's apparently cut to be more a story about Stratton, whereas the three-part, three-hour TV version focusses on the films rather than Stratton. The three parts of the TV show went out on ABC1 at 2030 on 6, 13, and 20 June 2017.

Episode 1: Game Changers

There is no real compelling logic to the order of the presentation of films, despite the 'generic' title. Some films mentioned or discussed:

Strictly Ballroom (Baz Luhrmann, 1992)
Romeo + Juliet (Baz Luhrmann, 1996) not Australasian
Moulin Rouge (Baz Luhrmann, 2001)
Stork (Tim Burstall, 1971)
Adventures of Barry McKenzie, The (Bruce Beresford, 1972)
Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir, 1975)
Gallipoli (Peter Weir, 1981)
Year of Living Dangerously, The (Peter Weir, 1982)
Newsfront (Phillip Noyce, 1978)
Storm Boy (Henri Safran, 1976)
Don's Party (Bruce Beresford, 1976)
Careful He Might Hear You (Carl Schultz, 1983)
Breaker Morant (Bruce Beresford, 1980)
Crocodile Dundee (Peter Faiman, 1986)
Jedda (Charles Chauvel, 1955)
Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton, 2009)
Turkey Shoot (Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1982)
Chain Reaction, The (Ian Barry, 1980)
Roadgames (Richard Franklin, 1982)
Patrick (Richard Franklin, 1978)
Snapshot (Simon Wincer, 1979)
Razorback (Russell Mulcahy, 1984)
Man from Hong Kong, The (Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1975)
Mad Max (Dr George Miller, 1979)
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (Dr George Miller, 1981)
Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome (Dr George Miller, George Ogilvie, 1985)
Mad Max: Fury Road (Dr George Miller, 2015)
My Brilliant Career
(Gillian Armstrong, 1979)
Those Who Love (P. J. Ramster, Paulette McDonagh, 1926)
Cheaters, The (Paulette McDonagh, 1930)
Dressmaker, The (Jocelyn Moorhouse, 2015)
Love Serenade (Shirley Barrett, 1996)
Radiance (Rachel Perkins, 1998)
Shine (Scott Hicks, 1996)

Episode 2: The Outsiders

This episode concentrated on particular films, while referring briefly to many others, and including snatches of interviews with various people, including Rachel Griffiths, P. J. Hogan, Jill Bilcock, Bryan Brown, Jeanie Drynan, Hugo Weaving, Jacki Weaver, Russell Crowe, Christos Tsiolkas, Geoffrey Wright, Rolf de Heer, Dr George Miller, Eric Bana, Sam Neill, Michael Caton, Stephan Elliott, Ted Kotcheff, Jack Thompson, Louis Nowra, David Michôd, Claudia Karvan, Fred Schepisi, Greg McLean, Geoffrey Rush, Luc Roeg, Jenny Agutter, Russell Boyd, Al Clark, David Gulpilil, Rachel Perkins, Andrew Bovell, Sigrid Thornton, Sue Maslin.

Featured films included Muriel's Wedding (P.J. Hogan, 1991), They're a Weird Mob (Robert Powell, 1966), Wake in Fright (Ted Kotcheff, 1971), Evil Angels (Fred Schepisi, 1988), Walkabout (Nicolas Roeg, 1971), Jedda (Charles Chauvel, 1955), Bran Nue Dae (Rachel Perkins, 2009).

Episode 3: Family

Films featured: The Castle (Rob Sitch, 1997), Rabbit-Proof Fence, (Phillip Noyce, 2002), The Devil's Playground (Fred Schepisi, 1976), Romper Stomper (Geoffrey Wright, 1992), and Lantana (Ray Lawrence, 2001).

Interviewees included many of the same people involved in the second ep (see above).

The 'family' theme allowed the director to bring together material about Stratton's actual own family and the idea of family, as shown literally in The Castle and metaphorically in The Devil's Playground and Romper Stomper.

Some films briefly glimpsed: Lucky Miles (Michael James Rowland, 2007), Footy Legends (Khoa Do, 2006), Romulus My Father (Richard Roxburgh, 2007), Floating Life (Clara Law, 1996), The Home Song Stories (Tony Ayres, 2008), Head On (Ana Kokkinos, 1998).

A major section was on Paul Cox (1940-2016 - to whom the episode is dedicated), and included a brief interview with him and some moments from some of his films: Force of Destiny (2015), Lonely Hearts (1982), A Woman's Tale (1991), Golden Braid (1990) My First Wife (1984), Kostas (1979), Man of Flowers (1983), Cactus (1986), Innocence (2000).

More films briefly glimpsed: Chopper (Andrew Dominik, 2000), The Combination (David Field, 2009), Animal Kingdom (David Michôd, 2010), Two Hands (Gregor Jordan, 1999), Snowtown (Justin Kurzel, 2011), Ned Kelly (Gregor Jordan, 2003), The Story of the Kelly Gang (Charles Tait, 1906), Ned Kelly (Tony Richardson, 1970), The Glenrowan Affair (Rupert Kathner, 1951), Ned (Abe Forsythe, 2003), Newsfront (Phillip Noyce, 1978), Tracks (John Curran, 2013), Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton, 2009), The Dish (Rob Sitch, 2000).

A feature of this show for people familiar with Stratton's history is his recantation in relation to The Castle, tho less so with Romper Stomper. When he first saw The Castle, he quite correctly perceived that it was satire. Latterly, he has allowed himself to be overwhelmed by the mass perception of the sanctity of family and home ownership, etc., as vox populi prefers to ignore the intentions of Rob Sitch and the other filmmakers. I think he has, however, maintained his rage towards Geoffrey Wright's powerful film.

Notes and Links

The film is now available on DVD - from here, for example. Both the film and TV versions will be released together 5 July in one very expensive package in Australian on region 4 DVD: from here, for example.

David Stratton page as writer


Garry Gillard | New: 6 June, 2017 | Now: 22 June, 2017