Tudawali (1987) - full transcript

Biopic that traces the life of Robert Tudawali, the first Aboriginal film star, whose lead role in Jedda the Uncivilized (1955) is iconic in Australian cinema.

(exotic tribal music)

- Jeez, Bobby, you got
the gang by the throat

There's your mrs. with lunch


- Excuse me, which one
of you is Bobby Wilson?

- Here, you're wasting
your time with them mister

- I'm Bob Wilson

- You were recommended
to us by Norm Lockwood

Mr. Lockwood of Native Affairs

Well, the situation is,
that we've been searching

high and low for an
aboriginal boy to play a role

- A leading role I may say,
in a very important film

which Mr. Chauvel and I are making

- What do you want me to do?

- I suppose you could say, it's
something like a corroboree

You act out a story and
we take your picture

A moving picture that is

- You mean like Hopalong Cassidy?


- Exactly

- He seen every Hopalong
Cassidy picture about 10 times

- We're going to make something
rather better than that

But first we have to give you a test

- Okay, turn over

- [Crewman] Speed

- Now, Bobby, concentrate

You are Marbuck, a proud savage warrior

Now let me see it, Bobby,
let me see that pride

Right, now walk in a slow circle


Yes, think how Marbuck the
warrior would carry his body

Strong, upright

You are tribal, you know only the trees

the rocks, and the rivers

You've come in from the
wild to the capital section

And there are many nervous
come out to watch you

You can feel them looking at you


You are a killer

You're a fugitive from the law

and there's the light of
the devil in your eyes



Fabian, show one

Peggy, Peggy, Peggy, come on

You come here and stand beside Bobby

- No, I can't act

- [Elsa] It's not a test
dear, it's just to help

- There, come on, no need to be nervous

There we are, there's a good girl

Now you just kneel down there



For the moment, you are Jedda

An innocent, young, pretty girl,

who's been brought up by
the white station owners

In other words, someone who
is caught between two worlds

You're attracted, mightily attracted,

to this handsome stranger

- Okay, turn over, speed

- Now you Bobby, you have a powerful magic

and you weave a kind
of spell over this girl

You sing her to you

(tribal singing)


- Something like that?

- Australian Aboriginal
history falls into two parts

18,000 years before

and 150 years after

white colonial imperialism

In other words, centuries
of harmony and coexistence

with this harsh, but fragile landscape

From then, if a smug, white
complacency would only admit it,

A brief, agonized era of despair

This tradition of passive
acceptance may soon be changing

Here at Wave Hill Station
in the Northern Territory,

Aboriginal stockmen of the
Guerengi tribe are on strike

On strike for equal pay with
their white counterparts

As though, black stockmen daring to strike

is not enough in itself,

the strikers are gaining strong support

from other black spokesmen

Among these, is perhaps
Australia's best-known aborigine,

longtime film and television
star Robert Tudawali

- Okay, that's enough

Harry, does it have to be imperialism?

White colonial imperialism?

It's biased, it's not objective

- Since when have we been objective?

- This is not journalism,
this is something personal


- I would have thought there was plenty

to gripe about about these days

- Did you hear?

He's had an accident

You might have to update
this with a bit of voice over

If it really gets bad, you
can always whiz up there

and get some extra footage

- I just whizzed down from
there, I'm not going Richard

- Harry, now for God
sake, you know the guy,

you just interviewed
him, who else can I send?

- No thanks

- Harry

Okay, what's bugging you?

- The man's a mess, and what he could--

- Newsroom: Tudawali, he's worse

- And?

- Could go either way

- I say that's a long way to come

just to visit someone in hospital

- Well it's partly professional,

he also happens to be a friend

Oh, you got some mates up here have you?

Best little spot on earth, Darwin

You can have Sydney, I've been there once

Up here in the territory,
people are real friendly

you know what I mean?

Who's your mate, I might know him?

- It's possible you do

Tudawali, Robert Tudawali

- Bloody Bobby Wilson

Yeah, I know him alright

He's the bastard that's
been stirring up trouble

with them abo stockmen

- He didn't start any trouble

he just came in as a sort of spokesman

- But there's no real
difference between the way

we treat the white
stockman and the Aborigine

- You forget that we do
have considerable experience

with the native labor

- They get the same wages,

the same conditions, the same

- Same?

Mr. Conroy, as representative
of your English company,

How do you react to
claims that your managers

are paying white Stockman $50,

yet their black counterparts get only $10?

- Well, that's untrue, completely untrue

They get part cash,

but they also get part
credit at the company store

You must realize that one native

may have 15 relatives and we feed them all

- I hope you realize Bobby
Wilson is a very sick man

He's hardly surfaced yet

- How bad is he?

- This may disappoint you,

but he has a fighting chance

Well, bad news is good news
for journalists isn't it?

- Well, this may disappoint you, sister,

but we've been friends for a long time

- Well if he comes around
while you're with him

call for me immediately

Don't start asking him questions

Don't upset or disturb him

Who gave you permission to
go into this patient's room?

- Visitors might get
him over-excited sister

I don't think he should
be talking to anybody

until he's talked to us

- Well, what do you want with him?

It was an accident wasn't it?

How did it happen?

- We're not sure

It was night before the show

The Darwin Agricultural Show

There was a lot of celebrating

and drinking at the Bagot Reserve

There was sort of fight,
some sort of argument

- Fight?

What about?

Why would he?

Surely he didn't just
lie there in the fire

- The alcohol level in
his blood was very high

- Didn't anyone try to help him?

- He was almost gone before we were called

Of course, it may have been a stroke

He has a long history of TB too

I don't think there's
much point Mr. Wilkins,

but if you want to stay a while

- Yeah, thanks

- Ladies and gentlemen of the press,

to play the part of the arch villain,

in the role of Marbuck,
Mr. Robert Tudawali

(people applauding)

Robert is a member of the Tiwi tribe

He was born on Melville Island,

we think some 25 years ago

At the age of 10,

his father moved the family
from Melville to Darwin

This little native boy paddled
the 50 miles of open water

between the island and the
mainland alone in his own canoe

Now as you can see in his early years,

he was a crocodile and a buffalo hunter

But then he took up an
even more dangerous sport,

Aussie rules football


Now Robert is an actor

Both Robert and Rose

took to their new
profession with amazing ease

And we spent eight months

filming in some quite
spectacular locations

And we're going to spend
the next three months

here in Sydney in the studio

Now, if there are any
questions, I'd be delighted

Well, we'd all be delighted to answer them

- Miss Kunoth and Mr. Tudawali,

What's it like being Australia's

first aboriginal film stars?

- I like acting in films

- What did you do before Mr.
Chauvel put you in his film?

- I worked for Mr. Wilson
down at the Ref Base

Did a bit of laboring,
whatever job I could get

- I hope Mr. Chauvel's
paying better money for this


- So do I, otherwise I'll have
to get this flash suit back

- 70% of Robert's salary

is paid into a trust fund
for Bob and his family

The rest is finger money
to do with as he chooses

- Out of all the big city
has to offer, Mr. Tudawali,

would you know what to
spend your money on?

- My wife asked me to bring her back

some nice dresses and a record player

- Mr. Tudawali, your wife Peggy,

why didn't she accompany you?

- She hasn't been too well lately

- Tell me, Mr. Tudawali,

what does roscoeana taste like?

- You tell me Miss, what
does roast lamb taste like?


- You did very well in there,
you're really professional

- Thanks

- I'm sorry about your wife being sick,

I didn't mean to put you on the spot

- That's okay

- It's nothing serious I hope

- TB

- Oh, hell, I'm sorry

- She in hospital?

- Mmm

- How long?

- Doctor reckoned she'd
be in for about a month

- First time in Sydney?

- Yeah

Big place


- Well, if ever you need a coach tour,

I mean a look around,

I'd be only too happy
to show you the sights.

This is my newspaper number
and this is my home number

- Hey, you better tell me who you are

- Harry Wilkins

- Is your wife from Melville Island too?

- No, she's Wogait, from Delissaville

About 50 miles from Darwin

They got a big mission school there

- Did you go to school Robert?

- Not for long though

Peggy, she can read and
write better than me

She's always reading books

- But you speak English very well

Want some more corned beef?

- No, thank you

- Why'd you leave school?

- My sister died at school

- Oh, I'm sorry

What did she die of?

- Don't know for sure

A lot of kids got sick at school

My father reckoned school killed her


- I know what he meant--

- Harry!

- Do you and your wife have any children?

- Not yet

But when...

When I do I want the best

Well, I mean, the best I can do for them

- Come on

Come on

You're all wet


- Cut

Cut, cut

- Sorry, you're not a
common sight in a Sydney pub

- Not a common sight
in a Darwin pub either

Not too many of us got the
right to drink up there

- Why?

- Welfare Act

All black fellas were registered

made wards of the government

Not allowed to drink, vote,

and we got to be in at a
certain hour each night

- Jeez

- To protect us from ourselves

Me, I'm privileged

My name's not on the stud book

- My bloody cues bent

Thought I was supposed to be teaching you?

- What are you looking at Snow White?

Come on mate, you're not
playing for a ship station

- We've got another
game yet, goes to three

- Not in this pub mate,
against the house rules


Take your money and move out sport

- It's my money, put it back

- No one's talking to you Snow White

- Look you heard what he said, put it back

- Hey mate, you are that
filmmaker bloke, aren't you?

Tiddly Widdly

- Tudawali

- Yes, that's what I said

Can I buy you a drink,

never bought a drink
for a filmmaker before

You are going to give him his money back

Give him his money

- You have to try and get more than one

feeling into the scene, Robert

You fight against the
death chant of your elders

You think you can fight it

You think you are stronger than they

But the madness is eating

into your mind

Your will...

We have to see this,
this, this desperation

This madness

- That's pretty good Mrs. Chauv

- Thank you Robert, I
was an actress you know

That's how I met Mr.
Chauvel, in silent films

- Well, ready?

Now remember Robert, get in a deep breath

It's all in the breathing

If an actor has control of his breathing,

he can control anything
he has to do or say

Got it?
- Back on set, please!

- Got it
- Good boy

- And mad, a little bit mad

- Alright, Graham, we'll try one

- Okay everybody, standing by

Turn over

Set slide 784, take one

- Action!

- Our men

Belong tribe

They point a bone at me

They see me dead

I die soon

Mondinka say you're wrong skin for me

If you die

Mondinka happy

Maybe not seeing me die

If you die

That's good

- No, you mad fella!

You mad fella!

- Cut!

- My dearest ladies and gentlemen...

That is approved

- And a wrap

Well done Mr. Chauvel

- [Male voice] Yeah,
Brian, thanks a lot mate

- [Male voice] Good working
with you, this was great

- Didn't know what to get you

- Thanks

It's very nice

A bit flash for me, but...


- Excuse me mister, can I take your photo?

Thank you

- [Male voice] Australian
National Airlines

advises the arrival of Flight 36

- Bob, nice to have you back

- Good of you to come and meet me

- Where's Peggy?

- She's at the gate

- Hey Bobby, Bob

Give the local paper a break mate

How was it in The Big Smoke?

Is it gonna be a good piggy?

- [Photographer] What about
you and that little girl?

Hey Bob, let's get the little girl

- Bob, you got a minute?

Give a bloke a break will you?

Just for the local paper please, huh?

Just for a cheap, thanks

We'll just get a shot and a...

- [Photographer] Well, let's
see if it looks good now

Show it how you smiled in The Big Smoke

- [Reporter] Very good, thanks

(people cheering)

(speaking native language)

- Their money

- [Male voice] Come on
you guys, give him a push

- [Male voice] Come on and join me

Come on

- Thought you said you'd look after it!


You come out of hospital too soon?

- I didn't like it

Anyway, you were coming home

- I missed you too


- It was great in Sydney, but...

- Who did you have down there?

You must have had someone,

you like it too much to go without

- Peggy

Come on

I only love you

- Why was it so great then?

Got a lot to fascinate have you?

Did it turn your head did it?

- A bit

People can live good down there

For the first time I got any idea

- You wanna go back?

- If I get another part in a picture

I'll be there like a shot

- Would I come?

- You gotta get better first

Better for me

Have a few kids

Get a nice little house on the beach

Look at this place

No running water, nowhere decent to cook

In Sydney...

You gotta help me Peg

- I can't even help myself

I thought you might go off with her

That Jedda type Rose Kunoth

- Little Rosie, she's only a kid, Peg

She got nothing to do with us,

she's going back to her own people now

- But you did have her didn't you?

You've been with her

- I didn't!

It was acting, acting for the picture

- Oh, I'm sick of that picture

I never want to see,

everything's gone wrong
since that lousy picture

- Peggy, that picture was
the first decent thing

that ever happened in our lives


- Good evening ladies and gentleman

and welcome on this
most auspicious occasion

First film premiere ever
to be held in Darwin

And coming now, I see the film's producer,

the emulant Mr. Charles Chauvel

Good evening sir

- I'd like to take this opportunity

of thanking the people
of the Northern Territory

who gave us so much help
in the making of Jedda

I hope you like the picture

- I'm sure we shall, that
was Mr. Charles Chauvel,

Australia's most eminent
film producer / director

Tonight we are here to preview Jedda,

Australia's very first ever--

- Elsa, where's Bobby?

- Hello, Jacko

- You fellas just got back in time

The boss killed a fat bullet this morning

Plenty of good tackle for everyone tonight

- Hello Billy, how's your big conilly?


- This new fellow, he come
from Walla Walla tribe

Been working on Buffalo
station on green skin river

Come on fella, reckon he's
a good man with a horse

Wants a job

- [Male voice] What name this one?

- Marbuck

- You tell him to put on trousers

- He ain't got no clothes

- Then find him some when
you get to the station

- Jedda, Jedda, come
on, I'll race you home

- It's going well

- Oh Elsa, I hope so,
so much depends on this

- Come inside, this is your night

- Marbuck!

- [Male voice] Take
him easy Joe, he's mad!

- [Male voice] Don't shoot,
don't shoot, can we do fellas

- [Male voice] Don't rush
him, Joe, he'll jump!

- Let her go Marbuck, let her go

Jedda, Jedda, let her go Marbuck!

Jedda, Jedda

She no good for you, it's your own skin

Listen Marbuck, listen

- [Male voice] Look out Joe!


- [Voiceover] Was it
alright to expect that Jedda

one of a race so mystic and so removed

should be of us in one short lifetime?

The tireless whisper of the soul of Jedda

now flies on the lonely plains

and mountain cranes with the wild geese

And that she is happy with
the great mother of the world

in the dreaming time of tomorrow

- Come on Rosa, stand up, take a bow

Where's Robert, Elsa, where's Bobby?

For god sakes Bob, where have you been?

- Right down here where I always sit

- Thank you, thank you

Here he is,

a young man with the
whole world before him

(speaking native language)

- Hey



Who are you?

You're a friend of Bobby's aren't you?

- I'm his cousin

- Why are the police asking questions?

- You always ask these questions

- That night, was there
a fight or an argument?

Were you there?

- You're Harry aren't you?

- All you want is a story

- What was the fight about?

Look, you could help me

I don't know enough

The man may die

All I need to know is
how and why it happened


- I got it too Peg

- It's my fault, come
out of hospital too soon

You got it from me

- Get it anyway

Living in this dump

Half the people on the reserve got it

As long as you two are alright

- You don't deserve this Bobby

- It's my money Mr. Everett

- Which is supposed to
be a weekly allowance

Not given out in great dollops
whenever you feel like it

- Gotta pay people

I gotta keep up paying for my bike

- 1,800 quid

Is that true?

Are you going down south?

It's a bloody fortune,
even for a white man Bobby

- I did alright

- You can buy me a fair few
cowboy suits with 1,800 quid

You're a soft-touch that's your trouble

I'll never understand you

- I'm gonna cry

- What?

- The allowance from your generous friends

down south is monthly

Any extra and you need an application form

But if you're going to share
it around the way some do

- My wife's pregnant, she's
still sick in the chest

I gotta get some medicine
and stuff for her

- Just so long as you do

- You don't look that good yourself

- I'm alright

- [Female voice] It's a beautiful baby

- [Female voice] Oh, thank you very much

- Your relatives didn't earn that money

they haven't any right to it

- We do it different, anyway,
that's my problem ain't it?

- No, this is your problem,
a sick wife and a new baby

- Bobby's a good boy Mr. Chauv

- I think he wants to be Peggy

You really spent every penny
that we put aside for you?

- I could not hold it in just my pocket

There was too much

Mr. Chauv

Thanks for coming

- Well, with headlines like these

racked with TB, living in slums

I got here as soon as I could manage

We've only been back a week

- I heard they liked the film overseas

- Oh yes, yes, it got
some favorable comment

- You gonna be making any
more pictures down south?

- I don't know Robert

I think Australian audiences
are more interested

in Americans than they
are in their own country

- I'd like to act again

- You should Robert, you
have an extraordinary gift

- Chips Rafferty is trying
to get some money together

to make a film

He wanted me to act in it, but I said no

- Why on Earth not?

- Mr. Chauv, you know I...

- She's very pretty Peggy,
what are you going to call her?

- Christine Joyce Jedda

- How nice

Thank you

(speaking native language)

- You gonna miss me?

I'm gonna miss you

Won't be long

Your daddy's gonna be in another film

Dust in the Sun

I'm going to be another
bad black fella, Emu Foot

You think your daddy's a
bad black fella leaving you?

Someday I'm going to take you with me

To Sydney

Maybe we'll live down there forever


- What?

- I was thinking about
that time when I was a kid

when I paddled that canoe
from Melville Island 50 miles

50 miles of open water

I was excited

Real adventure

But I was scared too

- What of sharks?

- Sharks?

Nah, that's my dream

That's why Mr. Chauv
used the name Tudawali

That's Tiwi for shark

No, I was scared of where I was headed

- I know what you mean

I don't know

Sometimes I hate this bloody country



self-satisfied country

- You don't mean that, do you Harry?

This is the best little spot on earth mate

- Yeah, but I don't feel at home here

Wish I did

Your people, you've got something

Something we've lost

If we ever had it

You feel at home here, you're comfortable

You got a...

A spirituality that's closer to the land

A center inside you

A stillness

I envy your people

I envy you

- That's a heap of shit Harry


- Where's Bobby?

- What do you want Mr. Harper?

- Got any money on you Peggy?

- No

- That's a pity Peggy

Because Bobby still owns me 85 quid

- It's not my bike, you talk to him

- That bike's been back
in my shop four times

and he hasn't paid me a penny

You just tell him that

- I'll tell him

- Unless you and I can
come to an arrangement

- I'll tell him when he gets back

He's too busy being a film star

- Film star my ass

Once a bum always a bum

- Hey Jimmy!

Jimmy boy, how are you?

Look what I got for Christine

- Hey Marbuck, how are you?

Merry Christmas

- Merry Christmas, hey, I got
a little present for us too

Five minute tea break

You know Christmas drink eh?

- Hey you down there, be quiet

Hey, put a sock in it douche

Use what you got, shut up

- Another deep breath then say anything

Well that's nice, bringing
a kid into a place like this

- I asked him to

- Who's the genius who had him arrested?

- Bobby was supplying liquor
to a ward of the state

- Come off it Jack, six months

Having a Christmas drink with his cousin

- He does not have citizenship

- Have you any idea what
goes on in the real world

outside your office?

Look, half the country's
in an uproar about it

This is the way we are
seen to celebrate Christmas

in this outpost of civilization

Look, it is less than
a year since Namagiri

got six months for
exactly the same offense

Don't we ever learn?

I want him out of here

- And Charlie you know he's
not under your jurisdiction?

- The health of these
people is my jurisdiction

This man has TB, he should be in hospital

- It doesn't matter

- Oh, doesn't it?

You get yourself locked up

Peggy goes off, Christ, any knows where

And your kid comes to me

to put food into her mouth
and it doesn't matter

- I want him out of here today

- Where have you been?

- Away

- For six weeks?

- Anyway, I didn't wanna
take Christine in there

- No, you let Everett bring her

- Why you always running
off to Delissaville?

Who you got there?

- It's my home isn't it?

And why shouldn't I?

You run around and do what you like

You're supposed to look after us

- I'm afraid I agree with Peggy

I don't think it's a good idea

- Best idea anyone's had since Jedda

- Bob you've been away
months neglecting Christine

and Peggy with another baby on the way

I'm not sure your own
health isn't up to it anyway

And all for some tin pot television series

- Tin pot?

Up here, that's what's tin pot

- You gotta have haven't you?

All the fuss, all the fame,
it's not worth a brass razoo Bob

These Whiplash people will use you up

And when it's all over
you got to come back here

try to settle down again,

be just as restless as you have been

since that damn Jedda

- You welfare people,

you're so bloody sure
of what's good for me

Sitting on my ass doing nothing

- You could get a proper job

- There are no proper jobs for us

Sweeping streets, digging roads,

shoveling shit, black fella's job

My proper job is down there, I'm an actor

- What if you got sick?

- So Sydney hasn't got any hospitals?

- We know your case here

- We know your case, when
I go to hospital up here

Do you know when I get?

Whites get four pound a week TB allowance,

mixed bloods the same, and what do I get?

I'm full bloody black
fella, so I could have TB

from asshole to breakfast time

and I get nothing, bloody nothing!

- Let him go

- Mr. Chauv...

He taught me a lot

- Mr. Chauvel was very fond of you Robert

I had such a lovely letter from Rose

And a photograph

Doesn't she look lovely?

- She's a nun

- I noticed

She looks so dignified

Don't you think?

And you're making a television series

It's all starting to happen now

Too late for us

Goodbye Robert

- Whiplash

Robert it's crap

Shouldn't be wasting your time

and talent on stuff like that

- No other acting jobs around

I thought once I was in Sydney, well..

Yeah, but when this finishes

- I should talk

I get myself into television journalism

Exciting new medium, blah, blah, blah

And what am I doing?

Prize-winning marrows at
the Sydney Agricultural Show

While some yank who's
got a 20-foot shack...

- What do you really wanna do?

- Something worthwhile

Tell the truth, right some wrongs

Tell people what it's
really like, I don't know

What about you?

- Just make it good, better, for the kid

My dream the shark,

believes when the
strongest dreaming of all

The shark is feared by everyone in the sea

He's a loner

There's only one other
dreaming that's, well...

not as strong

But not scared of

That's the sea dog


Well they like each other

And they're very careful of each other too

But there's one way the
shark can get the porpoise

If he takes him out away from
his friends into deeper water

Do you wanna swim?


♪ Whiplash ♪

♪ Whiplash ♪

♪ Whiplash ♪

♪ Whiplash ♪

♪ In 1851 ♪

♪ The great Australian gold rush ♪

♪ The only law a gun ♪

♪ The only shelter wild bush ♪

♪ Whiplash ♪

♪ Whiplash ♪

- How was whiplash?

- It was alright

- Did you save any money?

- I knew you were going to ask me that

- You're looking pretty well

A present for Christine?

- Where is she, where's Peggy?

- Any other luggage?

(speaking native language)


- Hold on, Peggy's
giving you the runaround

And you go round like a madman

You know where you'll end up?

Maybe the best thing is to send you back

to Melville Island for a while to cool off

- I haven't been on
Melville since I was a kid

I wouldn't know how to talk to them even

- It's a settlement for
God sake, it's not a jail

- Might as well be

- Well, you're being warned


- I might have been
inclined to make allowances,

but for the testimony of your wife

She's pleaded with this court

to be protected from
your disgraceful behavior

You shown yourself to be quite incapable

of managing your own affairs

You have anything to say before
I proceed with sentencing?

Placed in the care of the superintendent

of the Snake Bay settlement
of Melville Island

for a period of 11 months

- Go on

(speaking native language)

- I wouldn't mind a year on Melville

and you look fighting fit

- No booze

- The question is Bob,
can you stay in shape?

- I'll be all right now

I got an offer to go touring
with one of those tent shows


- Boxing?

Is that gonna be good for your health?

- I can take care of my health

- If you say so

I wanted to give you some advice

But, only if it's welcome

In my medical experience

Well, in my life experience,

the world seems to be divided
into two kinds of people

those who can hold their
liquor and those who can't

And that goes for all
races and all classes

But, your people, Robert

Suggest to me that really heavy, crazy,

self-destructive drinking

is a sign of deep
frustration and hopelessness

And when the Welfare Act is
amended and all your people

got drinking rights it can only get worse


Hear me out

There are other people around now

Your people trying to make things better

If you go down and link up with them

- I don't know

Some black fellas

Well, they think this film star stuff

I'm a bit of a clown

- You're an actor, aren't you?

You have the ability to
convince them otherwise

Might even convince yourself

- What's it called, this outfit of yours?

- Don't know?

Council for Aboriginal Rights

- You know what Danny?

I spent years keeping out of the hands

of councils and committees

I got enough red tape
to last me a lifetime

- You can speak, you can talk to whites,

you can talk to blacks,
front up to the camera

- It's been awhile since
I fronted up to a camera

Anyway, if this got
anything to do with politics

Well, I don't want--

- It's got nothing to do with politics

In capital issue, in
trouble with authority

- Know about that one for sure

Had my fair share of them

- Sorry

- [Male voice] Good one Johnny


- I don't think you're very
welcome here Mr. Wilson

- I got a right to be here,
we all got a right to be here

- Just because the government's
given you the right

to drink, doesn't mean you
got the right to drink here

I said I didn't think
you were very welcome

- Come a, come a, come a, come
a, 20 quid to try your luck

It's the easiest money you'll ever make

Cast your eyes over these cream puffs

and you'll see what I mean

What about Billy Macker here?

The Tiny Tornado from Townville

He's our greatest heavyweight,
Hank "The Yank" O'Grady

A man with no family and
the IQ of a fence post

And if these greats of humanity

don't make your chops
drool with excitement

then let me tempt you with this

Your own brush with stardom,
ladies and gentlemen,

your chance to step into the
ring with a genuine movie star

Let me introduce you,

that mighty warrior of stage and screen,

that Melville Island Marvel, Bobby Wilson

What was the name of that
film that starred in son?

Now don't tell me, it rhymes with cheddar

Cheddar, cheddar, Jedda!

That's right folks, your
chance to step in the ring

and flatten the big cheese

Come on, come on, come
on now, come on now!

Up here, come on now!

Come on

Come back here and face me Bobby

There's a lot of money riding on this

A lot of people paid money to see this!

If you want to lay down,
then bloody get out!

And you do what your bloody told!

- Bob, there's a television
crew arriving tomorrow

They want you to speak for
them, it's important Bob

- This tradition of passive
acceptance may soon be changing

Here at Wave Hill Station
in the Northern Territory,

Aboriginal Stockmen of the
Guerengi tribe are on strike

On strike for equal pay with
their white counterparts

Mr. Conroy, as representative
of your English company,

How do you react to
claims that your managers

are paying white Stockman $50,

yet their black counterparts get only $10?

- Well, that's untrue, completely untrue

They get part cash,

but they also get part credit

at the company store

You must realize that one native

may have 15 relatives and we feed them all

- How do you reckon it's gonna feel

getting in front of the camera again?

- Pretty weird I reckon

- You'll handle it like an old pro

- What you been doing
in Darwin, what work?

- Anything


Been working for the
Aboriginal Rights Council

Danny wants me to go down south

Got a letter from Actor's Equity

asking me to go to Sydney, talk
about all this to the unions

- That's great Robert

You're remembered

You could do a lot for your people

Say things no one else...

- How's Sarah these days?

- She's fine

Broke up a couple of years ago

- Me and Peggy too



- She's 14

She'll be breaking a few hearts soon

- 14

Like Christine

Don't know what I'm gonna do

Gotta do something

- She's pretty

An equity card?

- Only in 53

A bit out of date

I reckon I'm still an actor


- How are you Robert?

It's a hell of a place for Marbuck to be

- I need water

- Enough?

Anything else I can get you?

- Christine

- Christine?

Where is she?

- Bethast Island

Tiwi people look after her

Got to

get her to school

Convent school in Sydney

- Robert, how the hell
did all this happen?

- Made the news did I?

- Always do don't you?

- With a photo?

- No, no photo

It's all Vietnam these days

Wattie Creek story's looking good

My producer says I'm
coming on a bit strong

But, you're God's gift
to the camera as usual

- Harry

Did you come to do a story on me?

- No mate

Just to see you

- Thought there must be a story in it

You must be a big guy now

No more yanks and 20-foot shacks eh?

- Don't talk now, just rest

- Yank

rang me once

Mr. Chauvel was still alive

Wanted me to do a film

I told him

I only worked for Mr. Chauv

- You should have taken him up

What was it?

A freakin' witch doctor


- Robert, oh, hell



- You must go now

He won't wake before dawn

I'm sorry about before

I had no right to blame
you for what happened

- Please, that's not necessary

Can I walk you somewhere?

- No, I'm fine


Mr. Wilkins

Robert did speak

In the ambulance on the way in

He said that it was three against one

That they threw him onto the fire

He was in a lot of pain Mr. Wilkins

He may have been delirious

- Mr. Wilkins, a few black men got drunk

had a fight, one of them
landed in the campfire

I've seen it a dozen times

- No, no, that's...

That's too convenient

Tudawali is becoming a thorn
in the side of authority

Caught up with black activists

coming out in support of
the first big black strike

Somebody wanted him out of the way

It's a classic situation

every time the Aboriginal
people get a leader

the whites remove him
with alcohol or money

- You got it all worked out haven't you?

- Alright, you tell me
how it happened then

- I don't know and I don't know who does

Look, I hold no beef with Bobby Wilson

I always thought he was a cheeky bastard

There's been friction for a long time

from both whites and blacks

A lot of people were jealous

of the kind of opportunities he got

All that film star rubbish

- Getting patted on the
head like a trained seal

Filling his head with white notions

of individualism and self-importance

- Did you hear the one
about the black fella

who found a genie in a bottle?

The genie said you got two wishes master

So the black fella thinks for a moment

Then he says I wanna be a movie star

and rich and famous

So the genie goes poof and
turns him into Clark Gable

Then he has his second wish, he says

I never want to work again
for the rest of my life

Just wanna lie around in the
sun, do whatever I feel like

So the genie turned him
back into a black fella

- Tudawali

Come on shark where are you?

I need...

I wanna do something for you

I wanna tell people

Make them understand

Understand myself

- As though anyone in white
Australia would give a damn

- They would if they knew

- They don't want to know

- Robert


It's alright mate

Don't worry

I'm gonna look after Christine for you

Take her to Sydney to
that school, remember?


- You're gonna take her

- I'll get the doctor

- You're not gonna take her!

- I just wanna help you mate

- Ways to help...

She my flesh

My spirit

What can you give her?

- It's me, Harry

- Come on, fight

You fight me, fight me!

Come on, fight me!

You're not going take her!

What do you want from me?

What do you want!

What do you want for me?

- [Harry] The strikers
are gaining strong support

from other black spokesmen

Among these, is perhaps
Australia's best-known aborigine,

longtime film and television
star Robert Tudawali

- What we want

is what everyone wants

The right to a decent life


(speaking native language)

They say that

It's not about more money

People say I'm

I'm privileged

cause I was taken up by them film people

That's not a privilege, I earned that

That's all we want

Not charity

We want the right to
make our own way in life

Like everyone else

Mistakes and all

(native speaking music)