by Xavier Toby in New Film on Wednesday 15 September 2010

Chosen as part of the official selection of Cannes Classics in 2009, and premiered at the Cannes Festival back in 1971 (don’t worry I pronounce it ‘cans’ as well), this gem of Australian film-making was thought lost for all time. Luckily, it’d just fallen down the back of the storage shelf, or was being used to keep someone’s table level or some such, because it’s been found and re-released. Part horror and part indictment of Australia’s ingrained drinking culture, it’s a brutal and uncompromising film that will be as hard to forget as Samson and Delilah.

It follows the slow spiral into hopelessness of John Grant, in a rough outback mining town where everyone drinks, all the time. The townsfolk love their town, their mates, hunting, gambling and beer. And it’s hell. The threat of violence underlies all that happens, brace yourself for the scene featuring the real butchering of live kangaroos, and it’s terrifying to consider how many Australians it accurately portrays. Essential viewing for any film student, anyone interested in the history of Australian film and anyone with a drinking problem – so every Australian, really.