Samson and Delilah in Paris: I haven’t seen indigenous hit like this since Once Were Warriors…


Coming soon...

Samson and Delilah will open here this month.

Maragaret and David said it was a hit (5 stars).

Cannes Film Festival said it was a hit (First Film prize).

Even Andrew Bolt, whose opinion is generally regarded as worth less than blog it’s printed on, mumbled that it was a hit – if for different reasons that every other member of the Austalian public.

Last week I attended an advance screening. After watching it, I can agree: it’s certainly a hit – in fact, I haven’t seen indigenous people getting hit like this since Once Were Warriors, 15 years ago (incidentally, my Swedish friend thought that film was called “The Ultimate Warrior”, and once described it to me as “you know, that New Zealand action film”).

In Samson and Delilah, the lead characters are hit by sticks and stone, fists and by fury. He hits his brother in the head with firewood, then he hits the road.

She gets hit by a car, and he doesn’t see it because he’s getting a hit from petrol.

But in showing this, director Warwick Thornton also hits a chord…

The French perception of Australian Aborigines essentially extends to them as great painters of dots, and, follozing Baz Luhrmann’s film ‘Australia’, as  romanticized shamen (due to poor attendance in France, this latter perception hasn’t gained currency in the wider community).

Speaking at the screening last week, director Warwick Thornton discussed what he hoped viewers would take from the film, particularly in regards to its portrayal of the pervasive violence, negligence and harshness of life in Aboriginal communities – based and inspired by his own experience.

“I made this film for my own community. I’m the first Aboriginal to speak out about this,” he told the enthralled audience, peppering his speech with plenty of understated humour that didn’t quite cross the language divide.

This film has given viewers an insight not possible in 10 years of reporting on the 5 o’clock news. It’s amazing that we’re here in France talking about this. The message I want to give you is that maybe in Paris you’ll see people like Samson and Delilah and you’ll reach out to them.

Thornton went on to say that he considers film to be a form of “cultural maintenance”.

“In 50 years, when we look back at the films of today, what are we going to see?”

He answered his own question. “Transformers.”

To be fair, that film was a hit too.

*I sat next to a cool Italian woman who runs a cinema blog – and if you speak Italian, tell me what she says about it.



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