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The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978)

7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 830 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 12 critic

The true story of a part aboriginal man who finds the pressure of adapting to white culture intolerable, and as a result snaps in a violent and horrific manner.

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(screenplay), (novel)
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Title: The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tommy Lewis ...
Freddy Reynolds ...
Mort Blacksmith
...
Farrell
...
Rev. Neville
Angela Punch McGregor ...
Gilda Marshall (as Angela Punch)
Steve Dodds ...
Tabidgi
Peter Carroll ...
McCready
Ruth Cracknell ...
Mrs. Heather Newby
Don Crosby ...
Jack Newby
Elizabeth Alexander ...
Petra Graf
Peter Sumner ...
Dowie Steed
Tim Robertson ...
Healey
Ray Meagher ...
Dud Edmonds
Brian Anderson ...
Hyberry
Jane Harders ...
Mrs. Healey
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Storyline

The true story of a part aboriginal man who finds the pressure of adapting to white culture intolerable, and as a result snaps in a violent and horrific manner. Written by <tgard@genauto.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The chant of the underdog See more »


Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 June 1978 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Die Ballade von Jimmie Blacksmith  »

Box Office

Budget:

AUD 1,280,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Thomas Keneally's source novel 'The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith' was based on the life of bush-ranger Jimmy Governor. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Lacerating Film
17 June 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is a fine example of the breed of excellent Australian films released in the 1970s during the Australian film renaissance (it's interesting to note that virtually all of the directors of these films, including director Fred Schepisi, later moved to the U.S. to make big budget Hollywood films). This tale of a young aboriginal man who eventually turns to violence following one humiliation after another by white settlers in 19th century Australia asks some very uncomfortable questions of the audience such as: Is it morally justified to use violence against a corrupt, racist, violent system in which there are no lawful means to receive justice? Additionally, it is up to interpretation whether the violent reactions of the title character are justified: we are clearly sympathetic to him in the beginning, but once he perpetuates incredible brutality on the settlers, can we remain sympathetic? He is definitely not a monster, but a well-mannered and educated Aboriginal brought up by missionaries. After all, his actions are not simply heat-of-the-moment reactions; he has formally "declared war" on the perpetuators of injustice. Does that legitimize what he is doing? The U.S. has been asking itself these exact same questions for the past 50 years: Jimmy is very much a close Australian cousin to Bigger Thomas, the main character in Richard Wright's classic American novel "Native Son" - a black man pushed to violence by virtually every aspect of white society.

However, like Wright, I admired director Schepisi's decision to carefully straddle the line between whether Jimmy can be viewed as a simple societal construct or whether he is a man in control of his own actions. One could easily make a case for either of these scenarios or probably both of them. That makes the movie even more uncomfortable when one thinks about it afterward.

In many ways, this is a very depressing movie; in the end there is no closure, no justice, and nobody has learned a damned thing, except possibly the audience, if they truly think about what they have just seen. I really respect filmmakers who tackle incredibly difficult subject matter such as this, with moral quagmires and complex characters. My only complaint is that it is very difficult to understand much of the Aussie English, so an American viewer must listen very closely. This is a film definitely deserving of a U.S. audience. Too bad that its controversial (i.e. thought-provoking) nature has probably prevented it from being released on VHS or DVD in the U.S. I understand copies of this are quite rare abroad, as well, so I suggest viewing it if given the opportunity.


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