Australia, 1983, 90 minutes, Colour.
John Waters, Tom Oliver, Terry Serio, Simone Buchanan, Brett Climo, Caroline Gilmer, Kerry Mack.
Directed by Bill Hughes.
High Country was a big-budget 1983 Australian telemovie. The crew returned to the locations for the filming of the popular The Man From Snowy River. Television and stage actor John Waters was chosen for the leading role. The film is aimed at the wide family audience - and succeeds with the blend of action, sentiment, humour and irony. The mountain country is attractive. By and large, the material is fairly predictable - but often has the dash of toughness that makes it attractive to local audiences.
1. An entertaining telemovie? The style of telemovies 1983? The bush, the mountain scenery, country life? Country people and their lifestyle? Horses? The contrast with city people?
2. The impact of the telemovie for its wide audience? Telemovie style, issues? A star vehicle for John Waters?
3. The popular and familiar story? How predictable? If predictable, does it matter?
4. The use of locations: the towns, the high country, the Mountains, the weather? The special effects - especially for the horses? The musical score?
5. The portrait of the bush men and the contrast with city men? The men in the country, the towns? The cliques and what it needs to become 'local'? Droving, horses, stud farms? The troubles of the high country and the hazards? Money? Injury and deaths? The theme of the father with the motherless daughter?
6. Stacey and the situation with the horse? His plan to run the horse? For it to be lame? His influence in the town? The men working for him? The police? The return of Lomax? The clashes? Lomax taking the horse? The chase? His cruelty and the death of the horse? His being presented as a villain? His assistant turning against him? Defeated?
7. The contrast with Lomax as hero: his work in Queensland, a wanderer, the telegram, his return, his buying the horse-float, his plan, the visit to Debbie and their reunion, friendship with Dave, covering his tracks, the fights in the hotel, leading people astray, his return to the family, the meal? His taking the horse? The escape, Debbie coming with him, her injury and Dave's fault? Their being caught? The death of the horse and his having to shoot it? His emotions? Settling the situation and remaining? The strong bush man? His reputation? His wife, her death and his relentlessness? His trying to restore integrity?
8. Debbie as a strong daughter, her living with the family, school, outdoor life, need for her father, covering up for him dramatically? Going with him and the horse? Her injury?
9. Stacey's helper and h-is former work for Lomax, disillusionment with him, his seeming to be a villain yet his heart in the right place? His comeuppance in the game of pool with Dave? His changing loyalties?
10. The police, ordering bikies out of the town, influence of Stacey, the helicopter rescue?
11. Dave as a wandering bikie, his friendship with Lomax, setting up the game of pool and winning fifty dollars, wanting work from Stacey? The clash, Lomax giving him shelter? The pressure of the police and his having to steal his bike back? His being lost in the mountains? His awkwardness, his help? His being poked fun at with working with the cattle?
12. Country style, the pub, pool games, meals, working with the cattle, droving?
13. The old hands around the town, the loyalty of Lomax's friend guiding Stacey in the wrong direction?
14. The visual and verbal humour, the laconic wit and irony?
15. The film geared for audience expectations? Bush traditions: hard, sentiment, integrity? Especially for city audiences?