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Black and White (2002)

Recreation of the landmark 1958 South Australian Court trial of young aboriginal Max Stuart.




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Cast overview, first billed only:
David Ngoombujarra ...
Max Stuart ...
Bille Brown ...
John Gregg ...
Gary Waddell ...
Patrick Duggin ...
Policeman #1
Andrew Martin ...
Policeman #2
Frank Gallacher ...


True story that created headline news in 1959. A young aboriginal man Max Stuart, was convicted of murder in the light of questionable evidence presented, of nine year old Mary Hattam near Ceduna, on the south coast of Australia. International News Media Baron, Rupert Murdoch (played by Ben Mendelsohn), then publisher of the Adelaide "News," became the driving force behind securing a re-trial for Stuart. Written by Noel Bailey <uds3@hotmail.com>

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The conviction of one man will save another See more »




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Release Date:

31 October 2002 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Fekete és fehér  »

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Did You Know?


Referenced in Black and White: Featurette (2003) See more »


Traditional Chant
Performed by Max Stuart
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User Reviews

Typically Australian film.
20 February 2003 | by See all my reviews

You'd never know it going by the supposed exuberance of the Australian character, but our movies are some of the most restrained and thought-provoking out there. Even our action films are a far cry from their Hollywood counterparts. Put that down to whatever you like - perhaps it's our inability (on the whole) to take ourselves seriously. You could even say the sparseness depicted in our films is a reflection of our environment.

Questionable character stereotypes aside, Black & White *is* your Archetypal Australian film - reserved, unintrusive (in terms of technique - soundtrack for instance - the story itself is another matter), rather slow-paced.

90% of the reviews I've read have been positive, if not raving. A minority have commented on the apparent detachment and lack of interest shown by the actors - especially Robert Carlyle, a "big name" overseas actor brought in (you might believe) to boost the film's stocks. How much of that attitude would be Cultural Cringe, though - a cynicism brought about by an insecurity over our significance and standing in the world at large. Forget *who* he is, maybe he was actually perfect for the part. He certainly expressed an enthusiasm for the script, role and true story when interviewed - who is anyone to doubt his word.

Anyway, regarding the apparent detachment and lack of interest; what you have to understand about this part of the world (South Australia), is that it is a rather sleepy, seemingly relaxed place. As far as Australians go, South Australians/Adelaideans are more typical of our films than our supposed national character - reserved, restrained, you might even say repressed (*I'd* definately say repressed). So, perhaps it would be beneficial to interpret the portrayal of the characters in this film as accurate and thoughtful, rather than disinterested.

Repressed is the key word. Adelaide is not just known as sleepy and relaxed. It's also commonly known as the serial murder capital of Australia (I don't know how accurate that is), and also as being rather haunted and Gothic ("City of Churches"). We have skeletons in our closets - this story relates one of them.

Spooky, isn't it?

David Ngoombujarra puts his all into his performance, and it shows. His is a stand out. Black & White seems to only be known of by about a handful of people outside South Australia. Which is a pity.

Deserves to be seen. 9/10.

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