The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Currency Press, $16.95 pb, 96 pp
Possibly inspired by the British Film Institute’s ‘Classics’ texts, the ‘Australian Screen Classics’ series is not only downright valuable but also looks good. The latest two, in their smart black covers, each adorned with a striking still from the relevant film, confirms the importance of having such detailed attention paid to key films in our history.
It was enterprising of the series editor, Jane Mills, to commission Henry Reynolds to write the monograph on The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), a key film of the 1970s revival. Reynolds, the distinguished historian, is steeped in the study of Aboriginal life and how the indigenous population and its culture were confronted by European settlement. He brings a significantly different background to bear on Fred Schepisi’s film from one that a film academic or an industry figure might have offered, and that is refreshing in itself. He acknowledges his perspective at the outset, making clear that his judgements will have been reached from different starting points, but generously envies the power of filmmakers to ‘recreate the past’.