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Will Bryant and Mary are among the petty common criminals who are condemned by British justice to deportation to the new Botany Bay penal colony in Australia. The long sailing voyage is eventful, with them falling in love but her also seducing the noble, naive lieutenant Ralph Clarke. In the colony, life is terribly harsh. Ultimately, the pair and some other convicts organize a successful escape by boat. Barely alive, they reach Dutch Timor, and hope to be in the clear. Written by
Had a budget in excess of $15 million, making this the largest television mini-series ever made in Australia. See more »
I don't know that I can get us across.
Of course you don't, it's a risk, but you've gone from Cornwall across to Spain - the same distance, you said it yourself, and you'll be the one to get us to Timor.
I didn't exactly do that - sail across to Spain, I didn't exactly do that. I can read a chart better than a book, I can hug a coastline, feel a boat around rocks, but I've never taken a boat outside of land in my life, and I don't intend to now. Listen to it, it's our last stroke of luck and ...
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'The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant' tells the breathtaking tale of Cornish convict Mary Bryant (Romola Garai), convicted for stealing a bonnet and bread and sentenced to England's new Colony on the other side of the world in Australia. Mary, who had never been more than 5 miles outside of her village, made the journey with the first fleet in 1787, on the boat commanded by Captain Clarke (Jack Davenport). Clarke has a vision of reform for the convicts, an idea which clashes with the beliefs of Governor Arthur Phillip (Sam Neill) who sees no hope for England's trash. Clarke has particular hope for the wide-eyed angelic Mary; raped while in jail in England, Mary was pregnant during the voyage and the birth of her baby girl in the horrendous conditions of the boats is miraculous in itself, but Mary's journey doesn't end there. Arriving at the new colony in New South Wales in 1788 Mary marries Will Bryant, another Cornish convict they and other newly-wed convicts reap the benefits of their marriage as they are granted permission to build a house. Mary and other female convicts are outnumbered by the men 5:1, a gory scene of rape, pillage and plunder harshly depicts exactly how terrible the colonies conditions were for the women of 1788. Not only that, but water is scarce and crops do not grow in the poor soil. Mary, now with 2 children, proposes a plan with her husband to escape from the island prison, by stealing the colonies cutter boat and sailing 4 thousand miles to Timor with 5 other male convicts. But, as Governor Phillip exclaims; "the burden of carrying a woman, and children, no - even if they survive the sea, they'll never survive each other" so begins Mary's truly incredible and heart-breaking journey.
This is a truly spectacular Australian mini-series, and no surprise since it had a budget in excess of $15 million and is the largest television mini-series ever made in Australia. Directed by Peter Andrikidis and shot over 12 weeks in 22 locations, 'Mary Bryant' is a real accomplishment. The sets are spectacular; from the claustrophobic, sickening hull of the convict ships, to the stifling and scorching colony; every set perfectly evokes the atmosphere of the times and adds to the grandeur of the mini, aided with the beautiful music score of Iva Davies. Of course 'Mary Bryant' isn't always historically accurate, but it's practically impossible for it to be; there are few records of the first fleet's journey and following the events depicted in this mini, Mary Bryant all but vanished from the face of the earth. And despite Mary and Clarke being on the same ship in the first fleet, there is no evidence that they ever had a tumultuous love affair. But where there were plot-holes in history, writer Peter Berry adequately fills in angst-ridden characters and suspenseful plot.
The characters for this larger than life tale are perfectly cast. Romola Garai stars in her first epic role but is no stranger to period pieces; having starred in 'Nicholas Nickelby' and 'Vanity Fair'. Despite Garai's milk skin and doe eyes, she brings sharpness to Mary's strong-willed character; sometimes you resent her, but Garai knows when to make you sympathize and warm to her, and you do. Alex O'Lachlan is a NIDA graduate and his character of Mary's husband, Will is his first big role. He has charm and like Garai, can evoke feelings of bitterness towards the character which gives Will more depth. Jack Davenport rounds out the major leads as Captain Clarke; like O'Lachlan and Garai, Davenport portrays a complicated and multi-faceted character. We see tender moments of real love on Clarke's behalf when Mary seduces him as apart of her plan to escape; one criticism may be that the storyline and lengthy character development between Mary and Clarke means that the audience sees more reason for Mary to be with him, rather than Will. Just as quickly Davenport evokes bitter resentment as Clarke's obsession with Mary destroys and devastates. Even the minor characters deserve praise; Abe Forsythe's innocent charm and adorable looks stir sympathy as Sam, and Sam Neill's stony demeanor perfectly suits for the unsympathetic Governor Phillip assigned the almost impossible task of creating a new society on the barren Australian land.
This is a truly spectacular Australian mini-series, an accomplishment on all fronts, and what makes it truly amazing is it's derived from a true story.
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