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Cyclone Tracy (1986)

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clip Christmas Eve in Darwin

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

Clip description

Journalist Steve Parry (Chris Haywood) and Hilton (Paul Pryor), his friend and cameraman, drink at a tin-shed pub called Polly’s on Christmas Eve, 1974.

Curator’s notes

One of Cyclone Tracy’s strong points is its colourful portrait of pre-cyclone Darwin. There is an anarchic feel to this raucous pub scene thanks to the hand-held camerawork and the sound of the noisy, crowded bar. For the viewer, Parry’s celebrations hold an extra dimension that his fellow characters aren’t aware of – in an earlier scene we have seen Parry type a suicide note. His friend Hilton is an effective foil: young, enthusiastic and keen to keep working as a team. As the series progresses the writers use the pair to raise issues of ethics in journalism, such as: is recording a catastrophe as important as helping? This adds complexity and depth to a straightforward natural disaster story.

In part one, Cyclone Tracy sets up a number of these personal storylines, intercutting them with an authoritative newsreader-style voice-over that reports on the approaching cyclone, as can be heard at the end of the clip. This is an ongoing reminder that these narrative beginnings are soon going to encounter a serious interruption.

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