Ernie Dingo delivers an outstanding portrayal of Robert Tudawali, the first Aboriginal film star, whose lead role in Jedda is iconic in Australian cinema. This film traces the life of Tudawali.





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Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Tudawali
Jedda Cole ...
Peggy Wilson
Peter Fisher ...
Harry Wilkins
Frank Wilson ...
Charles Chauvel
Charles 'Bud' Tingwell ...
Dr. Rayment (as Charles Tingwell)
Suzanne Peverill ...
Elsa Chauvel
Bill McCluskey ...
Jack Everett
Michelle Torres ...
Kate Wilson
Shane Wynne ...
Jimmy Deakin
Chris Sampi ...
Franklyn Nannup ...
Denny Davies (as Frank Nannup)
John Low ...
Colin McEwan ...
Harper (as Colin McEwen)
Syd Davis ...


Ernie Dingo delivers an outstanding portrayal of Robert Tudawali, the first Aboriginal film star, whose lead role in Jedda is iconic in Australian cinema. This film traces the life of Tudawali.

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Release Date:

9 September 1988 (Canada)  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


(some sequences)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

TV Gold
13 June 2010 | by (Japan) – See all my reviews

While first and foremost a chronicle of the sad life of Robert Tudawali, an aboriginal actor who shot to fame in the 50s, this film also documents the systematic oppression of aborigines under colonisation in Australia and the resulting decay of traditional aboriginal society. It's rare for such films to be made--the mirror that this film holds up to the white Australia of the 50s, 60s, and 70s is not something many would want to see--for this reason, too, the same ignorant attitudes are perpetuated, and the same smug and racist attitudes still pervade Australian society.

Despite the political bent, the film is still a deeply personal story, detailing Tudawili's long battle with alcohol abuse, and the deep conflicts he faced in trying to reconcile the depressed aboriginal settlement where he lived with his wife and child and "the white man's world". His initial fame after being cast in the feature film "Jedda" is immensely seductive, and the money, respect and freedoms he has access to (not least alcohol) at this time forge the experience as a 'golden time' that he constantly tries to emulate throughout the remainder of his life without success.

As the film progresses, we see the hope drain and a negative cycle of despair and alcoholism engulf him. The film portrays this with stark honesty. While detailing the background of institutional oppression of aborigines, it does not absolve the part that Tudawili plays in his own destruction with drinking and poor decision making. Positive role models and people that understand the plight of the aboriginal communities try to help him, albeit with varying degrees of patronising colonial paternalism. The final period in his life offers some redemption for Tudawili, but ultimately we are left with the sad story of a confused and beaten individual who has fallen through the gaps. This would be a sad story were it not for the fact that someone has told it, and through it we can all learn.

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