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Inevitably there's some overlap with the other extras, but Schepisi is on good form and a passionate advocate for films as cinema – think big, he says, as big as you are able. Schepisi adapted the novel for the screen, and financed much of the production – at $1.2 million, a very expensive one for Australia at the time – via his commercials company, The Film House, plus any rich benefactor he could find. Inspired by the true story of a 1900 massacre and subsequent manhunt, Jimmie marries the first white woman he comes across (and, indeed, comes in), Gilda Marshall (, Things come to a head when Jimmie's younger brother Mort (, In the past few years, several movies have worn the influence of Schepisi's film on their sleeves. Despite the film’s age and lack of previous home video releases, picture and sound have come together extremely well, providing clarity on both fronts. Despite the weight of material involving Schepisi, there's surprisingly little repetition. Those wishing to play spot the difference, will find a handy guide in the accompanying booklet, along with New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael's contemporaneous glowing in-depth review of the film. As we see in emotionally brutal scenes such as Mort being hunted down and proudly displayed like a wild animal, this film proves that not to be the case and there are issues raised in The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith that are still prevalent in todays modern western society in terms of racism, greed, power, prejudice and rising up against it. A film with a premise too intriguing that I just couldn’t resist giving it a view. In the second half, as Jimmie and Mort go on the run, the forces of the law at their heels, it becomes something of a Down Under western. Yet everywhere he goes, Jimmie is made aware of the colour of his skin – not as dark as other “blackfellas” like his brother Mort (Freddy Reynolds), but still not white, still other. The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978) Film Review. (With a line spoken by Arthur Dignam's character at 96 minutes, the missing word is “Bathurst”, as in the town in New South Wales.) THE CHANT OF JIMMIE BLACKSMITH Celluloid Gypsies: Making “The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith” has a tighter focus and this 36-minute featurette also includes Tom Lewis recalling his first encounter with the director and his casting director wife, who famously spotted him in an airport. The film became the first Australian film to play in competition at Cannes since Wake in Fright in 1971. It was a “Section 3” title, not liable to be prosecuted but could be confiscated as “less obscene”. Fans should be pleased with the image here. Directed by Fred Schepsi (Six Degrees of Separation, Roxanne, Fierce Creatures, The Russia House) and based on a Booker Prize nominated novel by Thomas Keneally (Schindler’s Ark, the book that Steven Spielberg epic Schindler’s List is based on), what’s surprising about The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith is that it isn’t talked about more. The real events, novel and film all take place as Australia prepares to become a federation, which it did in 1901, and there's a clear sense that both the novel and the film suggest that Australia is a country built on the suppression, often violent suppression, of its indigenous peoples. A film with a premise too intriguing that I just couldn’t resist giving it a view. So it’s fortunate for film fans everywhere that Eureka have restored the film and packed it with extras for this release, part of their The Masters of Cinema series. It’s about at this point that things begin to turn and it becomes a different film all together. Yet it’s a powerful one, due to Schepisi’s assured handling of the material. Blu-ray Review: The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), Blu-ray Review: Monkey – The Complete Series (1978-80), True Cult: New Releases – Aliens, Castles & Witches, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pouwH2zbkMc&t=7s&ab_channel=Wolfman%27sGotNards%3AaDocumentary, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, A Conversation with Director, Fred Schepisi & Cinematographer, Ian Baker, Melbourne Premiere from Willesse at Seven, Jun 1978, GELLULOID GYPSIES: Making Jimmie Blacksmith – Interviews with key cast and crew, Q&A session with Fred Schepisi and actor Geoffrey Rush at the Melbourne International Film Festival, 2008, Making Us Blacksmiths – Documentary on the cast of Aboriginal lead actors, Tommy Lewis and Freddy Reynolds.
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