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The Tale of Ruby Rose (1987)

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clip ‘Things grow and you kill 'em'

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

Clip description

In the highlands of Tasmania in 1933, Ruby and Henry Rose live by snaring wallaby and possum for meat and skins. They have adopted a homeless boy as their son, Gem. Henry (Chris Haywood) skins wallabies without sentiment but Gem (Rod Zuanic) hates killing animals and often sets the wallabies free. As they camp out under a rock ledge, Henry scolds him and explains that killing things is a part of life.

Curator’s notes

The aerial shots at the beginning of the film give an immediate sense of how different this film is going to be. These mountains do not look like the rest of Australia, and Roger Scholes set out to make a film that didn’t look like the rest of Australian film. The aerial shots are both beautiful and terrifying, and the introduction of characters does nothing to soften the impact.

Henry skins a wallaby with brutal efficiency, discarding the carcase onto an obscene heap that suggests that this existence is both harsh and fundamental. Henry understands that to stay alive he must kill animals; he doesn’t understand why Gem doesn’t see that. There is a sly humour in the way that Chris Haywood performs these lines. He gives us a sense that Henry is uneducated, in terms of book learning, but fully equipped in terms of survival skills. He is a man unhampered by spiritual thought.

Roger Scholes spent a year photographing and interviewing people of the Tasmanian Highlands, before writing the script. He resisted attempts to shoot the film in the Victorian Alps, nearer Melbourne. He was adamant that the film had to be shot in the Tasmanian Central Highlands or not at all. The opening shots of this clip show clearly that he was right – there is no other place like this in Australia. Most of the film was shot in and around the Walls of Jerusalem, which is now a national park, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area.

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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.

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  • You may download materials for your personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes, but you must not publish them elsewhere or redistribute clips in any way.
  • You may embed the clip for non-commercial educational purposes including for use on a school intranet site or a school resource catalogue.
  • 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.

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

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