Australia/US, 1969, 115 minutes, Colour.
Beau Bridges, Jane Merrow, John Mills, James Booth, Andrew Keir, Tracy Reed, Peter O' Shaughnessy.
Directed by Philip Leacock.
Adam's Woman is a very entertaining film about Australian settlement origins, a story for which strict historical scrutiny would be out of place, but which does give us a chance to wonder about the early days and what they have contributed to the Australian outlook on life. Several grim scenes effectively remind us that transportation lasted till 1840.
But the main theme is the pioneering of southern NSW and the settling of ex-convicts on the land. Differing from those on the American frontier, the Australians struggled chiefly with the land, and, although the record of the destruction of the Aborigine is shameful, killing was not such a large feature of the early days, even with the bushrangers. One might compare the bushrangers storming the town in the film with American Western sieges. Beau Bridges and Jane Merrow are a likeable couple and engage our interest in their struggles. Despite some obvious plot inconsistencies, poor colour at times, an enjoyable film of the past
1. The meaning of the title and its implications? An alternative title was "The Return of the Boomerang". Which title is better?
2. Was this an enjoyable film? Why? How important were the adventure ingredients? How important was the Australian history? How important the use of locations and colour?
3. How well used were the Australian locations? The city and convict atmosphere, the country and pioneer aspects? The sense of Australian history, convicts and governors, pioneers and settlers from other countries? The impact of the Australian heritage?
4. How interesting a hero was Yank? An American hero for an Australian story? The plausibility of his story and the truth about him? His being a convict, his desire for escaping? The link with Bart Dyson, the escape and his being captured? The impact of the death sentence? His shrewdness in choosing a bride? His response to Irish and the pioneering? The lack of impact and his desire to continue to escape? Not relating to Irish as a husband? The importance of the work, building the house and settling? His relationship with the sergeant, as a rival and as a guard? The impact of meeting Dyson again and escaping? The realisation of his love for Irish? His response to building the town and to the governor? The importance of the dance and the humiliation by the magistrate? His heroism in the siege of the town? What future would he and his wife have as pioneers? What insight into such a nineteenth century character?
5. How well portrayed was the world of the convicts, the harshness, the desire for escape, the bitterness, the harsh sentences, the attitudes of magistrates, the leniency of the governor?
6. How interesting was the picture of pioneering in New South Wales? The isolation? The problems, animals, work, houses, threats by bushrangers? The building of towns? The sense of achievement?
7. How attractive a heroine was Irish? The impact of the prison sequences, her wanting to own her own land, her refusal to consummate the marriage, her driving Yank to such work? The growing in love? The importance of her not revealing her pardon to Yank? The background of her victimisation by the magistrate? The change in her, her role at the dance, the future that she could have as a pioneer? What insight into such convicts?
8. How important was the picture of colonial society in the film: prison life, prisons, the brothels, the soldiers, the governor and the pressures, his emancipist secretary, the magistrate and his arrogance, drunkenness? The picture of colonial justice?
9. Did the film give any insight into Britain and its relationship to the Colonies? The importance of the governor inspecting the Colony? The building of the town and its implications for governor, convicts, the aristocracy?
10. Did the final siege seem too much like an American western? Or are there similarities in the frontier lives and difficulties? The ordinariness of the people fighting and the lengths to which they went?
11. After this discussion, does the film seem just an historical adventure or something more? why?