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Fred Schepisi's 1978 Australian film adheres to the classical form of the national epic, with its rhyming, foreshadowing passages, its inclusive journey motif, and its charismatic hero, whose actions bring forth the new country. But all of the values have been inverted: Schepisi's hero is half white, half aborigine; all of his honor, sacrifice, and earnestness bring him only scorn and disaster, and finally he revolts. It's the death of Jimmie, the last quixotic revolutionary, that gives birth to modern, white Australia. The film is formally precise and visually stunning, with strange, hollow interiors and eccentric, original wide-screen compositions against brooding landscapes. A complex experience, brewed equally from myth and irony. 122 min.

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