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Jedda the Uncivilized (1955)

Jedda (original title)
Set against the harsh natural surrounds of outback Northern Territory, Jedda captures a rare and honest glimpse into the heart and history of indigenous Australia. Young Jedda is caught ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (screenplay)
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Rosalie Kunoth-Monks ...
Jedda (as Ngarla Kunoth)
Robert Tudawali ...
Marbuck (as Robert Tudawalli)
Betty Suttor ...
Sarah McMann
Paul Reynall ...
George Simpson-Lyttle ...
Douglas McMann
Tas Fitzer ...
Peter Wallis - Police Officer
Wason Byers ...
Felix Romeo - Boss Drover
Willie Farrar ...
Little Joe


Set against the harsh natural surrounds of outback Northern Territory, Jedda captures a rare and honest glimpse into the heart and history of indigenous Australia. Young Jedda is caught between two cultures forbidden from learning about her indigenous heritage and never fully accepted by the other. Written by Predator Fxxxed Alien

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The BIGGEST Australian films ALL come from CHARLES CHAUVEL "In the Wake of the Bounty" "Heritage" "Uncivilised" "40,000 Horsemen" "The Rats of Tobruk" "Sons of Matthew" .... and now "JEDDA" - biggest of them all! See more »


See all certifications »




Release Date:

27 February 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Jedda the Uncivilized  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This was the first Australian feature film filmed in color. See more »


The rips in Jedda's shirt vary in the scenes after she and Marbuk are discovered near the waterhole. See more »


Featured in 40,000 Years of Dreaming (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

A generation stolen?
4 March 2002 | by (Melbourne) – See all my reviews

An aboriginal cook from a Northern Territory cattle station dies giving birth. The child is subsequently adopted by the proprietors - the McManns' - who have just lost their own daughter. The child is named 'Jedda', meaning 'little wild goose' and she is raised (as best Sarah can, yet against the pleaful wishes of her husband and coworkers) as a white girl ("bringing her closer to our way of life"), not knowing her own language or culture. Having learnt the piano, her A.B.C. and generally being taught how to behave a proper Australian woman, the polite girl soon comes to be greatly adored by all on the ranch. Yet come rainy season, when all her aboriginal friends 'head bush', Jedda regrets not being able to go with them.

Temporarily becoming a station-hand at the McManns' Station is Marbuck

  • a nomadic, fringe-dwelling Aborigine - whom Jedda is strangely drawn

to. His tribe still observes the traditional customs of the Dreamtime as they were at the time of White Settlement. To Jedda, Marbuck is a true and absolute representation of the culture that has, because of her upbringing, always been denied and outrightly repressed (both by her 'parents' and subconsciously, herself). However, when she is unexpectedly abducted by him, she is somewhat abhorred by the experience. When Marbuck brings his new bride before his tribal elders, he is non-too-politely asked to leave his 'white' wife. The two head off into the bush; Jedda uncertain what her fate will be and Marbuck undecided what action he will take.

While the topical issue of the Stolen Generation may come to mind, this film is, I believe, in no way a comprehensive piece of propaganda in favor of such a process; in fact the message the film seems to give is a mixed one. At the start of the movie, Sarah's husband recognizes and extols the pride the local Aborigines have in their culture and respects them for retaining their ancestral links (though perhaps for material reasons) - "they go out on their walkabout and come back better stock-men for it." He pleads to Sarah not to try "turning that wild, little magpie into a tame canary. Her roots are deep, they don't tame, only on the outside...it takes a thousand years to 'tame' it, you're trying in one life". Sarah, however, insists in almost a missionary tone that adopting Jedda is the only action they can take if they are to bring "them" closer to the 'Australian' way of life: "that's the old cry isn't it...you think they like to sleep with their dogs and their flies?"

Made in 1955, of course, it does not try to counteract the attitude at the time that most Aborigines were fringe-dwellers and subservient to White Australia, though the film does not go out of its way to illustrate it either. Nevertheless, all the aborigines we see either exist as hired-hands especially dependent on the station's hospitality or can be categorized under the "gone bush", tribal stereotype that most Australians at the time subscribed to. Perhaps to cater for this expectation of a 1950's audience, the film makers have chosen to select unusually black Aboriginal actors. Even if not done on purpose, the cast of extras, filmed under garish-pastel Technicolor, look almost like they have been covered in Vaseline. If not for the desert scenes, an international audience may have thought they were seeing the clichéd charcoal Islanders of early Hollywood cannibal films, rather than the browner ingenious inhabitants we know today. They all address whites as "boss" and "missus".

This film is greatly entertaining and heartbreaking, epic in its scope and is genuinely well-made, though the local utilization of the color format (the first film in Australia to do so) may make you chuckle. There are some very tense moments in the film as well as some beautifully shot scenes of the outback, and this movie was totally made on location. JEDDA is, we are told, a true story.

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