Dir. Henri Safran. Australia. 1976.

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Like Taxi Driver, this little movie from Australia is also celebrating it's 35th anniversary.  Winner of Best Film at the 1977 Australian Film Institute awards.

Based upon the novel on the same name by Colin Thiele, it tells the story of a young boy who lives alone with his widowed dad in the beautiful coastline of South Australia's Coorong who befriends an aboriginal man, Fingerbone Bill (David Gulpill) who initially scares him and also comes to care for some pelicans who come across his home.

After the pelican mother is killed by hunters, Storm Boy rescues three chicks and cares for them, once they hatch he cristens them Mr.Proud, Mr.Ponder and Mr.Percival.  After his Dad convinces him to release them ('All wild things must be set free'), one pelican, Mr.Percival returns to them.  Before long though the friendship with Fingerbone Bill and the need to attend school create conflict and the fate of Mr.Percial hangs in the balance.  

The father says Storm Boy knows enough, the female teacher (dressed to the nines in a fake fur, and speaking in a posh anglicised accent) says he needs the education and denying him will do irrepreable harm - the difference between urban and the garden is all apparent.

Beautifully shot by Geoff Burton , and with a lovely piano led score the film is a useful nature film helped by the sterling lead performance of Greg Rowe , the young man christened Storm Boy who runs around barefoot and is treated as much of an outsider once he heads to school

Part an indictment of man's destruction of the world he lives in (two fishermen throwing beer cans into the sea) and part love letter to the natural world, Storm Boy is that rare film that wears its heart on its sleeve and in the true Antipodean sense, is not ashamed of it either; a film with a clear message and spirit as powerful today (maybe even more so in today's age) as it was firstly upon release.  Treat yourself to a rare Australian piece of timeless cinema.

Released by Crabtree Films on Monday 23rd May 2011 on DVD.
Jamie Garwood

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