On 19 February 1942, the Japanese air force bombed Darwin. The Japanese threat to northern Australia is the backdrop to The Overlanders (1946), which the NFSA is screening in Darwin on 19 February to mark the 70th anniversary of the bombing (see below for details of special screenings).
The Overlanders is about a drover (played by Chips Rafferty) who drives a mob of 1,000 cattle across northern Australia to Queensland, to save them from capture by the Japanese.
The film proved Chips Rafferty’s worth as a leading man and made him a star. It was also his first major dramatic role after playing comedic sidekicks. His self-reliant drover became a new Australian screen archetype, and paved the way for the success of Crocodile Dundee (1985) four decades later.
The Overlanders was a major commercial success in Australia, the UK and the US. It continues to influence filmmakers today. Most recently, it inspired Baz Luhrmann’s epic Australia (2008), whose plot also turns on a major cattle drive and the Japanese bombing of Darwin.
For more information and educational resources about the bombing of Darwin, visit Frontline Australia.