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MY BRILLIANT CAREER: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
Sybylla Melvyn (Judy Davis) is the eldest daughter of an impoverished NSW farming family in 19th century Australia. Despite her social standing and financial insecurities, she is determined to succeed as a writer, and this at a time when women were not supposed to have such ambitions in any case. When she falls in love with the handsome and socially upmarket Harry Beecham (Sam Neill), it tests her resolve; loneliness is a terrible price to pay for independence, as she is warned.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
What stands out immediately the film starts is Gillian Armstrong's natural flair for cinema; she tells a thousand words with a single frame, as when we see the farm hands struggling with a cow while Sybylla is reading her own writing, hardly aware of them at her window. In a couple of seconds, we not only know intellectually, but also sense the whole emotional situation.

This film is such a seminal part of Australian cinema, made at the end of the 70s, when local filmmaking was no longer just a wild dream for Australians. In some ways we can see a symbolic metaphor for Australia itself in the story of strong willed Sybylla aspiring to be heard - either as a pianist or better still, as a writer. Just like the Australian arts community, determined and yearning for its chance to create its own cinema. To her family, she has delusions of grandeur ...

Judy Davis gives what is by now recognized as a career-making performance as the spirited Sybylla, with considerable help from a wonderfully sensitive Sam Neill as Harry. All the supports are terrific, the cast drawn from actors at their peak.

Don McAlpine's award winning cinematography shows his natural flair, while production design offers some the best examples of period work in Australian film. All of this, of course, hangs on the beautifully nuanced screenplay by Eleanor Witcombe.

The DVD is rounded out with some useful features, including the Gillian Armstrong commentary, and recent interviews with her and with producer Margaret Fink. Both are informative and engaging.

Published November 29, 2007

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

MY BRILLIANT CAREER: DVD (G)
(Aust, 1979)

CAST: Judy Davis, Sam Neill, Wendy Hughes, Robert Grubb, Peter Whitford, Patricia Kennedy, Alan Hopgood, Julia Blake, Max Cullen

PRODUCER: Margaret Fink

DIRECTOR: Gillian Armstrong

SCRIPT: Eleanor Witcombe (novel by Miles Franklin)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Don McAlpine

EDITOR: Nicholas Beauman

MUSIC: Nathan Waks

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Luciana Arraghi

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

PRESENTATION: 16:9; DD 2.0

SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by Gillain Armstrong; interview with Gillian Armstrong; interview with producer Margaret Kink; ABC newsreel from Cannes 1980; the Miles Franklin story; study guide

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Madman

DVD RELEASE: November 10, 2006







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