Adapted from the novel by Thomas Keneally, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith is a classic of Australian cinema from the fruitful period of local film production in the 1970s.
Set in the late 1890s and masterfully directed by Fred Schepisi, the story is based on actual events surrounding half-caste bushranger Jimmy Governor.
Facing constant racism, along with the discovery that he may not be the father of his child, Jimmie’s pent-up anger ultimately explodes in a vengeful rampage that ends with the murder of seven members of a white farming family. Jimmie flees into the hills, along with his brother, wife and child, with the police and outraged farmers in pursuit.
This is an important film historically and a confronting one in its depiction of colonial oppression and the reprehensible treatment of indigenous Australians – themes that also resonate strongly in Warwick Davis’s recent Sweet Country. Indeed, Schepisi was so disillusioned after completing the film, he departed for Hollywood and did not make another Australian feature until 1988 – the dramatisation of the Lindy Chamberlain saga, Evil Angels.
Long out of print on home entertainment, The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith returns to the shelves in a Blu-ray edition on March 7, loaded with bonus features that further illuminate this powerful and controversial work.
- An introduction by Fred Schepisi
- A Conversation with director, Fred Schepisi and cinematographer Ian Baker
- Melbourne Premiere from Willesee at Seven, June 1978
- Audio Commentary with Fred Schepisi
- Q & A session with Fred Schepisi and Geoffrey Rush at MIFF 2008
- Making Us Blacksmiths: Documentary on the casting of the Aboriginal lead actors, Tommy Lewis and Freddy Reynolds
- Stills Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer