9 February 2008 | spj-4
Don't miss this gem about pioneers of the modern cinema!
Well what a wonderful surprise this interesting & informative collection of biographies has produced!
I was looking for a time-passing program as I flicked across the dial & on came this unheralded docu-movie about a couple of legends of the Australian film industry on "Your ABC"! What followed was an absolutely superb insight into a couple of visionary if amateur film-makers & how they struggled in an era mostly unsupportive of their cinematic endeavours! Of course, they tampered with the facts in some of their primitive productions, at times casting multiple characters in the one role, as well as showing elements of being racketeers in some of their desperate financial woes under considerable trials.
But what was found here was simplistic dream-making & an intriguing drive to produce media presentations & news coverage in current affairs or historical events, depicted in a way that would appeal to the interests & titilating scandals that brought cinema-lovers in Australia flocking to Hollywood productions in the 1930s & 1940s.
Along the way, we have a little romance & some insight into the protagonists' private lives, as well as into some of the broader community. So we have the likes of characters such as the Police Commissioner of that time. He selectively suppresses stories, like those about bushrangers, because such were viewed by him as likely to add to anti-establishment hero sentimentality he personally opposed. But on the media-crazed case of the more recent "pyjama girl" murder, he eventually found his hands were tied, so sought to manipulate facts to get outcomes that would have him & his police force, perceived in a positive light, regardless of justice or fairness! No worries about the truth or misleading evidence getting in the way of his preferred outcomes!
By contrast, the amateurish film-makers struggle with their need to produce movies on shoestring budgets & are never far in front of those pursuing them over promises not kept. For all that they achieved in their seemingly critically-condemned spectacles, their impressive persistent but flawed efforts to produce quality cinema, are probably most admirably found here in this intriguing adventure that the viewer could hardly be other than sympathetic to their unlikely & increasingly desperate efforts to produce a quality & profit-making cinema. They were up against the giant-killers from Hollywood who could easily outdo with professionalism anything these wide-eyed visionaries could hope to produce.
But surely this pair & their ilk must be sitting up above on the clouds looking down now & marvelling at this cinematic masterpiece, as surely as they would have likely flourished in the 1970s under a more benevolent era of film-making that evolved in Australia under the broad-thinking of the Whitlam government that sought to bring welfare, tertiary education & multiculturalism to expand our country into a part of the global village, not an isolated island only of international significance for swimming, cricket & tennis & subservient war efforts in the eyes of others!
Beyond this, I could think of so many of the 1970s Australian movies as being seeds that duly flourished in the aftermath of the likes of "Hunt Angels"! Surely, such as these gave some insight into the evolving genius of such as "Newsfront", "The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith", "Devil's Playground", "Caddie" & "Picnic at Hanging Rock" not to forget less well-known but EXCELLENT offerings like "The Last Wave" "Summerfield" "The Mango Tree" "The Getting of Wisdom" & even to the antics of the likes of "Alvin Purple"!
Please do not let the opportunity pass to spend 90 minutes of your life on such a gem as "Hunt Angels"! You owe it to yourself to get ALL of the above & so much MORE too within 90 minutes for your precious minutes enjoying your popcorn & drumstick! Don't miss it!