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Sunday Too Far Away (STFA) is one of those movies that all but disappeared on its initial release in the UK during the late 70s in spite of the late resurgence of Aussie films at that time which included Picnic At Hanging Rock.
STFA is hard, tough & grim movie, set on a sheep shearing farming community in the Australian Outback. The little town is dependant on sheep to keep their bleak economy ticking over but when for the men who have to spend 9 or 10 hours a day in back-breaking conditions shearing the sheep life is tough and the money relatively poor.
So when the leader of the shearing gang, Foley (a truly brilliant performance by the much underrated Jack Thomson) demands a pay increase for his team the owners try to bring in scab labour from out of town, which only causes friction amongst the shearing crews, the owners and the townspeople.
So that's the story, but what is so marvellous about the film is the conditions the men have to work in; that they have to compete with each other with scoreboards kept on display so that rivals can see who has shorn how many sheep per day. Foley is the Sheep King but he has to fight to retain the crown with up & coming farmers ready to take it from him.
And then once their work is finished there's very little left for them to do apart from drinking beer in the bar or sitting out in the shade swatting flies and talking about women or a better life.
It truly is a bleak suffocating film, especially with the hot sun & the stifling heat the men work under. Just watching the movie made me feel clammy & tense. And yet the movie is excellent on all levels, not only with the routine storyline, but also with the characters and the cinematography.
Director, Ken Hannam, does a superb job moving the film the along at either a very lethargic pace (to suit the mood & feel at the time) or he steps up a gear when the men are at their work shearing the bemused sheep.
With this kind of simple storyline you'd be forgiven for thinking it could ever be interesting. But think again because this is the old Australia where life was tough in the Outback.
I recommend it highly.
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