Nominated for an AFI Best Film Award in 2001*, The Dish remains a favourite Australian
film. Still treading that fine line between ridicule and affectionate caricature of their
characters – as they did in The Castle – the Working Dog team has accomplished a
miraculous fusion of Big Story with Little Folk (much credit to Rob Sitch’s
direction). This fact based yarn about the Moon landing (omitting some really bizarre
facts like the then Mayor’s real name being Cec Moon), explores how the event placed
a small community and some ordinary people onto the stage at one of mankind’s
greatest, most uplifting (literally) moments.
As Louise says in her review, "This is rural Australia in the late sixties, and
the openness of the landscape and the feeling of isolation is well observed and portrayed.
My toes were tapping full time with tunes like Good Morning Starshine, The Real Thing and
Classical Gas, and whether you were around in the late sixties or not, you'll enjoy the
trip. Integration of actual news footage sets up the perspective, and the climactic moon
landing scenes generate a sense of overwhelming pride and achievement."
The audio commentary by Rob Sitch and Santo Cilauro concentrates on the directing and
background research aspects. It’s evident that Rob and Santo had a great affection
for the Australian of the period, as well as for their story. The detail that served them
in making the film adds depth to the enjoyment of the film in retrospect. It’s
anecdotal, too, and easy to listen. The soundtrack is nicely balanced with the commentary,
giving us that sense of watching the film with these two blokes.
Casting and music are the focus of commentary by Jane Kennedy and Tom Gleisner; the two
different commentary tracks on this DVD underscore the expansive collaborative nature of
the production. This second commentary is a great bookend to the first. Evidently Working
Dog had thought through the detail and the participants deliver a fascinating, detailed
Those interested in the music will note how composer Edmund Choi was a suggestion from
Miramax’s Harvey Weinstein; Choi did the music for Working Dog’s The
Castle’s US version. The Australian original version was scored by Craig Harnath.)
The Dish on The Dish featurette (not listed on the DVD slick) is a soft edge doco on
the film, filled with clips from the film and grabs from the filmmakers. It’s a short
version of the long-form commentaries with some cast interview grabs, like a paraphrase.
Useful for that, anyway.
And I really like the stills feature: you can flip through the stills with a aeries of
clicks and get a fun sense of the film’s mood.
Andrew L. Urban
*The nominations werte announced on October 13, 2001; The Dish opened in Australian on
October 19, 2000. The 2001 awards were presented in November 2001. The film is edited by
the 2001 Best Editor winner, Jill Bilcock for Moulin Rouge.
Published: November 22, 2001