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Australia 1983
Directed by
John Richardson
88 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


Based on a 1946 novel by Frank Dalby Davison, Dusty tells the story of outback bushman and farmhand Tom Lincoln (Bill Kerr) and the dog which he buys as a puppy thinking it to be a kelpie when it is in fact a dingo. Dusty is admired as a first-class sheepdog but as he gains maturity his dingo side emerges and he starts killing sheep and Tom is forced to choose between his affection for the canine and the pragmatic expectations and comfort of human society.

Although manifesting the sentimentality typical of old school family movies Dusty is both attractively nostalgic in its classic depiction of Australian rural life and effective in the way that it tackles larger ethical themes within the setting of the story.  For the principal subject matter is the relationship between man and nature and the conflict between the ways of civilized society with its rules and regulations, compromises and expediencies and another, freer way of living that harkens to different but no less valid laws. A comparison to the relationship between between earlier white settlers and the Aboriginies is easy enough to make.

It is to director John Richardson and screenwriter Sonia Borg's credit that Davison's themes are not reduced to a simple opposition but shown in their complex relationships. In many ways the Australia depicted here is of the past but it is decidedly one worth re-visiting.

DVD Extras: Audio commentary by on-set animal trainers Mary and Ken McCrabb, Trailer, Photo Gallery and Press Clippings PDF.

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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