Orphan of the Wilderness

Orphan of the Wilderness (Ken G. Hall, 1936) aka Wild Innocence; prod. Ken G. Hall, Cinesound Productions, wr. Edmond Seward from story by Dorothy Cottrell, 'Wilderness Orphan', dp George Heath, sound Clive Cross; Brian Abbot, Gwen Munro, Ethel Saker, Harry Abdy; family story about a boxing kangaroo; 85 min.

No one had ever made a feature film about Australian fauna, with the natural emphasis on kangaroos that must emerge, until Orphan of the Wilderness. There had been the odd nature-study shorts, but there was no precedent for a film with a story line taking the audience along with the tiny joey, orphaned by the gunshot which killed his mother, through many adventures in the wild until he became a boxing kangaroo in a circus. Ken G. Hall 1980, Australian Film: The Inside Story, Summit, Sydney: 88.

Under the direction of J. Alan Kenyon a bushland setting, 140 feet by 70 feet, was reproduced inside the studio at Bondi; eucalypt trees, ferns, shrubs and grasses were replanted in the studio around a waterfall and bush pool. A score of animals - kangaroos, an emu, koalas, a snake and a bullfrog - were moved inside. Problems of filming the animals were plentiful: most were sensitive to the studio's lights, and the kangaroos, after settling in, were difficult to prompt into action. The result, however, was an introductory twelve-minute sequence that stands today as one of Cinesound's best. The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 December 1936, found the opening pastorale 'extraordinarily beautiful ... The tender, lyrical images flow across the screen, graced by exquisite photography and pleasant music, in a way which recalls the soothing beauty of the silent screen'. Pike & Cooper: 175.


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