Stir (1980)

  |  Action, Drama, Thriller


Stir (1980) Poster

Filmed in the Clare Valley, Gladstone and the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, this prison movie was inspired by the true life prison riot at Bathurst Jail in 1974 and its subsequent Royal Commission into New South Wales Prisons.


7/10
244

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User Reviews


9 June 2015 | Theo Robertson
7
| Perhaps Not The Best Aussie Prison Drama After All
This is a film I've wanted to see for a very long time indeed . I used to visit a site dedicated to prison movies and you can visit the same site by clicking on the external links on this very page . The webmaster thought STIR was "The best Australian movie by quite some distance" . This is a strong claim to make since the 1988 movie GHOSTS OF THE CIVIL DEAD is an outstanding , unforgettable piece of bleak nihilistic prison drama . Perhaps not the best feel good movie ever made , but a total antithesis to the wildly overrated THE SHAWSHANK REDEPTION but any movie that someone can claim is better than GHOSTS is well worth checking out . Unfortunately STIR seemed a contender for most obscure Aussie film ever made and searched online for it but no luck . Well until that was I chanced upon on a certain site - YT you know what I'm saying - earlier today and watched it . I'm guessing because I wanted to watch it for so long there was an ever so slight feeling of disappointment as the end credits rolled

I can see what the film is trying to do . There's an ambiguity at play and this is reflected in the title

Stir: Noun . Slang word for Prison

Stir: Verb . Slang word for To cause trouble

And yet everything ends up a little too black and white lacking in any ambiguity . The inmates "Crims" are by implication fairly low level criminals with the story focus centering on China Jackson who's doing a six month stretch for shoplifting while the guards are almost universally violent , fascistic brutes . There also rather one dimensional and their sadism seems over done to say the least . One can understand and perhaps even cheer such violence if it was inflicted upon child murderers and sex offenders but shoplifters and people helping themselves to a till ? The film does take sides a bit too easily . The credibility also takes a dive as to the amount of violence being inflicted upon the prisoners . If this happened in real life the average victim would have internal bleeding , broken bones and probably fatal injuries . I know Aussies pride themselves on a tough , butch image but the violence is totally over the top and means it ends up being an "Ozploitation" film

This is a pity because despite wanting more out of STIR it is fairly ( Pun alert! ) captivating . The cast led by a very effective Bryan Brown do their best with the slightly thin material they're given to work with . Best performance is by Max Phipps as a guard seeking a redemption of sorts but the rather black and white obvious screenplay that an environment of violence breeds violence and counter violence blunts the performances and means in my opinion GHOSTS OF THE CIVIL DEAD remains the greatest Aussie prison film I've seen so far

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Budget:

AUD485,000 (estimated)

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