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Pure Shit

Pure Shit (Bert Deling, 1975) aka Pure S; wr. Bert Deling et al., prod. Bob Weis, Apogee Films, dp Tom Cowan; Gary Waddell, Ann Heatherington, Carol Porter, John Laurie, Max Gillies, Tim Robertson, Helen Garner, Phil Motherwell

Pure S is the episodic story of four young heroin addicts in their journey through Melbourne's drug sub-culture in search of their next drug supply. Bert Deling consciously directed the action as a comedy, with rapid-fire dialogues in the manner of Howard Hawks, violent colours, and actors in constant hectic motion. His aim was to communicate the hysteria of the drug-taker's life-style, and because 'most people who see Pure S are looking into an alien world we thought comedy would make that process a little easier'. Not all audiences appreciated the style - the hard rock music,the coarse language, lingering close-ups of vascular injections - and a critic in the Melbourne Herald, 3 May 1976, tagged it 'the most evil film that I've ever seen' and found the comedy 'as appropriate as a musical about Auschwitz'. The Commonwealth film censors responded initially by banning the film altogether, and then releasing it with an R certificate provided that the title was changed from the original Pure Shit (slang for refined heroin). But the film had a power to polarise opinion, and reactions that recognised the dramatic validity of Deling's approach came from several sources. Bob Ellis found it 'a gutter-hugging but oddly homeric account' of the junkies' life, with dialogue 'strangely close in spirit, if not in slang or cadence, to that of the great Neil Simon - sharp and lean and pugnacious' (Nation Review, 31 March-6 April 1977). Pike & Cooper.

References and Links

Danks, Adrian 2019, 'Pure Shit',, republished from Metro Magazine, 149, 2006.

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Garry Gillard | New: 30 November, 2019 | Now: 27 June, 2020