Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online

Heritage (1935)

play May contain names, images or voices of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Violence – low
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clip Settlers attacked education content clip 3

Original classification rating: G. This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

Morrison (Franklyn Bennett) has married Jane Judd (Margot Rhys) because of a promise he made before he met Biddy O’Shea. Biddy has also married, and both women have had a baby. When Aborigines attack and kill her family, the fatally wounded Biddy (Peggy Maguire) asks Morrison to rescue and care for her child.

Curator’s notes

The scene could have come straight from an American western, except for the black skin of the Aborigines, and the bark-slab hut construction of the farm house. Chauvel had grown up around Aboriginal people and he used Aboriginal actors in many of his films, often to provide action in scenes of warfare (see Uncivilised [1936]). It is true that their concerns became more central to his films as he developed as a film-maker. He would eventually make Jedda (1955), the first Australian feature film in which two Aboriginal actors would play the main roles. Their presence in Heritage is to provide a sense of action and opposition. The film never considers the question of why these blacks might want to attack settlers on their land; that was a given. The point of view of Indigenous Australians is almost never discussed in Australian films before the Second World War.

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australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions. All rights are reserved.

When you access australianscreen you agree that:

  • You may retrieve materials for information only.
  • Where permitted, you may embed materials for your personal or non-commercial educational use only.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

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