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The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith

Not many people realise the films born out of the current climate of sensitivity about the plight of Aboriginals at the hands of white colonisation (like Rabbit Proof Fence) are a revisitation of the genre originally forged by films like Jimmie Blacksmith and Jedda). Film makers were plumbing the depths of political conscience back when Aboriginals were still regarded the same way they were in the days those films depicted.

Half-white Jimmie Governor is raised in a white rural parish led by a stern pastor (Thompson) and wants to make good in the white fella world, marry a nice Christian girl, save up enough for some property and be respectable.

But instead of his acting white being his ticket to white culture, his black skin ostracises him at every step despite his attempts to fit in and work hard.

Eventually, driven to desperation because of the way he's treated, he goes on a murderous rampage, killing all the whites who've crossed him or shut him out, having to abandon his wife and baby and go on the run with his full-blood brother.

From there the story becomes less social comment than dramatic retelling of the true story on which it's based as things fall apart one step at a time leading to his subsequent capture.

Shows the lot of an aboriginal culture shoved aside for white colonisation, the double standards and racial assumptions that prevailed with sensitivity but it's hard to know if Schepisi is just trying to tell the story or warn that mistreatment of Aboriginals in general is a bomb waiting to explode.

The cream of Australia's acting talent in the 1970's all come together looking impossibly young and fresh faced, and the story mostly engages you at every step.

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