Original classification rating: PG.
This clip chosen to be PG
There were just five shopping days to Christmas 1965 when Ronald Ryan (played by Bill Hunter in this re-creation) and Peter Walker initiated their escape from Pentridge Jail just after 2pm on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Professor Gordon Hawkins introduces himself and then begins with the story of the escape. He’s at ease with the camera and delivers an arresting narration, aided by voice-over from actor Bill Hunter in character as Ryan. The program makes use of an excellent animated re-creation of events to help explain what these two inmates had planned and what went wrong.
It’s significant that Professor Hawkins is more than a journalist or professional presenter. He’s a criminologist, which allows us to feel we’re in the hands of a legal professional as he takes us expertly and clearly through the sequence of events and how such evidence was used by both the defence and the prosecution teams at the subsequent trial.
It is unlikely that the filmmakers would ever have been granted permission to film inside the jail while it was still an operating penitentiary, so the idea of re-creating the escape using animation was a stroke of genius. In those days the ABC employed its own graphics department with talented animators and artists on staff, so the huge expense of the weeks of painstaking animation work would have been absorbed by the ABC itself and not allocated to the program as part of its budget.
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