Australia, 1985, 82 minutes, Colour.
Robert Coleby, Barbara Stephens, Gordon Piper.
Directed by Mark Callan.
Hector's Bunyip is a children's telemovie, designed for children to enjoy - but with touches of interest and humour for parents.
The film focuses on an eccentric husband and wife who have their own children and have adopted three (ranging from Asian to aboriginal to physically handicapped). There are tensions in the town - especially with a money man interested in development. There is parody of Australia's American preoccupation with theme parks in the presentation of the money man trying to build tourism in the small town because of the bunyip that the handicapped boy has as his imaginary companion.
The hero of the film (Robert Coleby) is called George Bailey (James Stewart's name in Capra's It's a Wonderful Life). He and his wife have given Greek mythical names to their children (which he mixes up) and there is a lot of family storytelling and imagination. The film pokes fun at social welfare do-gooders as well as the money dealers. Terry Willesee appears with the Channel 7 news team (Seven had money in the project) and they are not particularly satirised although there is some spoof on the media.
The film is set in Western Australia, shows the power of imagination and storytelling - and has a strong message about family, family unity with overtones of anti-prejudice towards Asians and aborigines.
1.Entertaining family film? Children's audiences? Adults?
2.The Western Australian settings, the small town, the bush? The Bailey household, the inventions - turning into modern art? The development of the town for tourists? The musical score?
3.The title, the focus on the young boy, imagination, the Australian creature as the imaginary companion?
4.The presentation of the Bailey family: George, his inventions, forgetfulness? Love for the children? The family sequences, meals, telling stories? Irene as practical and giving her support to her husband? Their natural children, the bonds between the children, their helping one another? The Greek mythical names and storytelling? Playing together? Their life in the household? The adopted children, the range of their backgrounds? Part of the family?
5.The opening, Slater's son and their frightening him in the cemetery? Slater and his anger? Slater and his place in the town, money, deals, the developers? Double-dealing? His meetings, the pressure on the family? His visits, wanting to evict them? Getting the authorities in? The collaboration with Miss Trumball? The possibility of the bunyip park, the hotel developments, his ambitions? The tourists coming in? The media? His self-importance? Change of heart towards the family? The revealing of the truth, his comeuppance and humiliation? His son? The caricature in his performance?
6.Miss Trumball, the elderly unmarried woman, her severity, visiting the family, her criticisms? Her hard line? Wanting to catch the family out? Camping? The rain? Her coming into the family, the storytelling, her opting out? The gradual mellowing? Her change of heart? Joining in the family, becoming the aunt?
7.The humorous background of Ivy, Piper and Chooka, comic characters, the bananas, the banana chip plan? Inventions? With the children, with the family? The bunyip, the tourists? The humorous mix-ups?
8.The media, Terry Willesee as himself, the interviews, the coverage? People's reaction?
9.The tourists and their coming in, the eccentricities of tourists, curiosity, commercial? All wanting to see the bunyip? The gentle spoof on tourism, theme parks, the behaviour of tourists?
10.The portrait of the children: Pandora and Gilbert, their responsibilities, helping one another? Cassandra and Heracles? Lim and his Asian background, Michael and the aborigines? Hector and his disability? His getting lost, imagining the bunyip? The family and their support of the bunyip? Miss Trumball and her wanting to take him away, the children hiding him in the cave, giving him food? Trying to find him? His re-emergence, the success of the bunyip? The bunyip finally leaving?
11.The police, the young inspector, his dating Pandora? His disguise, warnings, helping out the family?
12.The signwriter - and the humour about the signs, his contribution?
13.The optimistic family? Good nature? Family love? The poking fun at money and the social system and its legalism?