Thursday, September 30, 2010
Aborigine Musical "Bran Nue Dae"
In America, African-Americans were (and sometimes still are) treated like second-class citizens.
In Australia it is the Aborigines, the indigenous people of the islands of Australia and New South Wales, who lived happily before the white Europeans came along and made life miserable for them.
“Bran Neu Dae” is the modern Australian version of an American minstrel show, the minstrels being Aborigines.
Set in the late 1960s, “Bran Neu Day) (Brand New Day) is a politically-charged fable with music about an Aborigine boy who dares to stand up to the Colonial establishment. The story adapted from the songs and stage act of an Aboriginal band called Jimmy Chi and Knuckles and fashioned into a screenplay by Chi, Reg Cribb, and Rachel Perkins, who also directs. The movie has elements of road trip, coming-of-age and rebellion in a Wizard of Oz kind of fashion.
Willie (Rocky McKenzie) is a model son and student who lives with his mother in the Outback in the tiny town of Broome. Willie has never met his father, who he has been told is dead.
Willie is sweet on Rosie (Jessica Mauboy), a childhood friend who has blossomed into womanhood.
Rosie is pretty and very good singer, which has attracted the attention of Lester (Dan Sultan), the egotistical Caucasian leader of a band and the club he plays in.
Willie is such a good student he has been accepted into a strict Catholic prep school in the big city. The school is ruled by the tyrannical Father Benedictus (Geoffrey Rush), who treats his students with patronizing condescension.
When Willie endures all that he can, he decides to make a break for it and somehow make the 3,000-mile trip back home. Father Bend ictus is not about to let that happen, so he takes off in pursuit in his old Mercedes.
Early in his journey Willie meet an older Aborigine he calls Uncle Tadpole (Ernie Dingo).
Tadpole has a fondness for booze, but he feels protective of the boy and decides to help him on his quixotic journey. Also the way they hook up with a couple hippies in a ragtag VW bus, an Annie (Missy Higgins) and Slippery (Tom Budge) reluctantly join the quest.
“Bran Neu Dae” is old-fashioned and corny, with characters breaking into and dance at the drop of a hat.
You just know it will all lead to a big-finish production number, and so it does. Don’t be too surprised if you find yourself saying, “I’m an Aborigine too.”