Tommy Lewis had never had any acting experience when he was cast as this film's lead character Jimmie Blacksmith.
This picture was one of fifty Australian films selected for preservation as part of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia's Kodak / Atlab Cinema Collection Restoration Project.
When first classified by the Australian Film Censorship Board, this film garnered an R-rating, restricted to persons 18+ and over. The rating was appealed, and the Australian Films Board of Review over-turned this rating and the film was re-classified with an M rating, suitable for persons 15+ and over.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
'The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith' novel by Thomas Keneally was nominated for the Booker Prize in 1972. The book lost to John Berger's 'G'.
This movie was notable for its simple striking two-tone poster artwork associated with the film's title logo. It features a hand and axe in solid black, the axe half-colored in red with one large red drop falling beneath it.
Though a critical success around the world, this film was commercially unsuccessful at the box-office in Australia.
Author Thomas Keneally's has said that if he wrote 'The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith' novel today, he would not try to write in the voice of an Aboriginal character but instead would write the story from the perspective of a white character.
This film is considered one of the key films of the Australian Film Revival / New Wave cinema of the 1970s.
This film was the first of three consecutive Australian films selected in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. The second was My Brilliant Career (1979) whilst the third was Breaker Morant (1980).
Thomas Keneally's source novel 'The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith' was based on the life of bush-ranger Jimmy Governor.
The song 'The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith' sung by Australian rock band The Groovsemiths is also based on the 'The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith' story.
Reportedly, with a budget of about $1.28 million (Australian), this Australian film was apparently the most expensive movie ever produced in Australia at the time it was made.
This film was made and released about six years after Thomas Keneally's source novel 'The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith' was first published in 1972.
Director Fred Schepisi's original cut of this film runs 122 minutes, though it was more widely distributed in a shortened version running 108 minutes.
This film's opening prologue reads: "Based on real events that took place in Australia at the turn of the century".
This film was nominated in every feature category in the 1978 Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards except Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The nominations included noms for Best ... Film, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Sound, Editing, Costume Design, Cinematography, Music Score and Production Design. The film though only came away winning 3 AFI Awards (Best Actress - Angela Punch McGregor, Best Supporting Actor - Ray Barrett and Best Music Score - Bruce Smeaton) in a year dominated by the film Newsfront (1978) which won 8 AFI Awards from 15 nominations. Angela Punch McGregor, winning Best Actress for this film, also won the AFI Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Newsfront (1978) in this same year.
Second feature film directed by Fred Schepisi. The Devil's Playground (1976) had been the first.
Awards: Best Actress (Angela Punch McGregor), Best Supporting Actor (Ray Barrett), Best Original Music Score (1978 20th Australian Film Awards).