Down under, We of the Never Never is a well-loved turn-of-the-century classic by a Mrs Aeneas Gunn, who as a genteel Melbourne bride was expected to add a woman's touch to her husband's isolated cattle station. Phlegmatic British audiences, not much in touch with the pioneer spirit, will find in this adaptation an unashamedly old-fashioned celebration of corseted pluck as Jeannie Gunn rolls up her lacey sleeves and wins the grudging respect of the hitherto misogynistic stockmen. It's a pleasurably predictable formula, kept afloat by plangent orchestration, glorious cinematography, and a continuous supply of death-beds and simple outback funerals. The film's real difficulty lies in Jeannie's treatment of the Aborigines. She's nice to them but patronising (makes the gardener wear trousers). Is Auzins inviting us to make up our own minds about her naive colonialism, or just dodging what could have been the film's central issue?
Cast and crew
Angela Punch McGregor