#SheWatches The Nightingale

August 28, 2019

Photo by Matt Nettheim

Brutal colonisation and arrogance. How on earth did they cope, women, convicts, emancipists, settlers. Transported and relocated to “hell on earth” Van Diemen’s Land after surviving treacherous seas sailing from the United Kingdom of Great Britain. And innocent aboriginal communities invaded by English settlers. Horrific, soul destroying inherent violence towards aboriginal people, women and the land itself. 

Tasmania as we now know it, still retains a vast area of rugged untamed wilderness where there is no compromise. It’s harrowing bushland is unpredictable but even with its bone chilling weather conditions, is beautifully haunting and majestic. You feel it in the movie. If lost in the bush, it is about survival of the fittest. I know I once lived there.

The movie, The Nightingale written and directed by Jennifer Kent. We see how one woman’s fierce determination to survive became possible, ferociously driven by her ultimate need for revenge. 

Photo by Matt Nettheim

Brilliant and confronting, we watched a traumatic story that makes you squirm in your seats.  

Set in 1825, Aisling Franciosi masterfully portrays Clare, a young Irish convict woman, exposed to horrendous acts of violence and family loss. She took us on her hell bent mission through the rugged unforgiving wilderness where survival was anyone’s guess.

Guided by Clare’s Aboriginal tracker Billy, (skilfully performed by Baykali Ganambarr), also stripped of his heritage, family and dignity through damaging acts of violence, they confront a life-threatening journey together. From mutual hostility, they learn to find empathy and understand each other. I loved the bond they formed albeit it took time given their backgrounds. I was with them all the way on their quest, exhausted and saddened by the experience.  

Extensive research and consultation on the history of convicts in Australia and the history of Tasmanian Aboriginal people (in particular with prominent elder Uncle Jim Everett) was undertaken. Jennifer Kent’s authentic and honest story still plays on my mind; this is how it would have been back then. 

Thanks to Transmission Films, it really is a movie to see, a reminder of where we came from and the issues that we continue to confront! 

Cast: Sam Claflin, Aisling Franciosi, Baykali Ganambarr, Damon Herriman, Harry Greenwood, Michael Sheasky 

Producers: Kristina Ceyton, Bruna Papandrea, Steve Hutensky, Jennifer Kent

In Australian cinemas nationally 29 August 2019.

Photo by Matt Nettheim


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