Manganinnie

Manganinnie (John Honey, 1980) prod. Gilda Baracchi for Tasmanian Film Corporation, wr. Ken Kelso, dp Gary Hansen, design Neil Angwin, ed. Mike Woolveridge; Mawuyal Yanthalawuy, Anna Ralph, Phillip Hinton, Buruminy Dhamarrandji, Jonathon Elliott, Reg Evans; first feature film from the Tasmanian Film Corporation; the 'Black Drive' of the 1830s; cf. the doco The Last Tasmanian (Tom Haydon, 1978) Eastman colour, 35mm, 90 min.

I suppose the name Manganinnie was chosen for the main character of this romantic view of the infamous Black Line incident in Tasmania in 1830 because it sounds a bit like Truganini, who was supposed to have been the last Tasmanian Aboriginal (until people like Michael Mansell became prominent). John Honey's 1980 film proposes that a little girl of about ten would not only go off with an Aboriginal woman who turns up one day, but also learn her language and even customs to the point where she can perform the appropriate chant at her obsequies. Quite absurd – but quite charming. The screenplay is the only feature written by Ken Kelso. The lead actress (in her first film) is Mayuwul Yanthalawuy, who at the time was a pre-school teacher in Darwin. I'm guessing from her name that she might be from Yolngu country, like David Gurlpilil and Yothu Yindi and Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu.

The film lacks the passion the subject deserved, but is ravishingly photographed by Gary Hansen. Stratton: 35.

At a time when too many Australian films were hyped far beyond their worth, John Honey's Manganinnie was grievously undervalued. Keith Connolly, in Murray: 62.


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