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Australia 1980
Directed by
Stephen Wallace
101 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


Based on the Bathurst prison riots of 1974, Stir is a convincing account of a brutal jail system and almost unbelievable degree of sadism that infected the warders in their treatment of the prisoners there. Written by Bob Jewson, who was a minimum security inmate at the time, the script presents the prisoner's point of view without bias but with a great sense of humanity creating well-drawn characters and situations that never fall into the hackneyed or melodramatic.

If empathetic realism is the core of the film's strength it is well-realized by excellent casting with Bryan Brown in fine form in the lead as, "China" Jackson, a natural-born leader to whom both sides of the system turn for help in their own ways.  He is well supported by Max Phipps as a warder divided against himself, Dennis Miller as a career criminal and sexual pragmatist and an excellent cast of character actors including Robert "Tex" Morton, Gary Waddell, Paul Sonkkila and Edward Robshaw. Stephen Wallace's direction is not as dynamic as it might have been with the riot sequence being fumbled in parts but the sense of authenticity and emotional intensity carries the day.

DVD Extras
: Brand new 16:9 transfer, a 50 minute interview feature with key cast and crew; the original theatrical trailer.

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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