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form y separately published work icon The Overlanders single work   film/TV  
Issue Details: First known date: 1946... 1946 The Overlanders
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Set in Australia near the beginning of the Second World War, a time when much of the country was in fear of an impending Japanese invasion. This fear caused many Northern Territory inhabitants to begin evacuating, in order to escape being taken prisoner, and to burn everything in a 'scorched earth' policy, in order to leave the invading forces without resources. Rather than kill all their cattle, a disparate group decides to drive them overland halfway across the continent.

The Overlanders is a story that emphasises the Australian spirit in a time of great uncertainty. It recreates the hazards of an epic cattle drive and carefully assembles the mannerisms, vocabulary, and attitudes that characterise the Australian bushman. The story also reinforces the resilience and strength of women, particularly through the character of Mary Parsons. In this respect, it carries on the tradition of the bush heroine established in Australian films of the twenties and thirties.


y separately published work icon The Overlanders : A Novel Dora Birtles , London : World Film Publications , 1946 Z796417 1946 single work novel

Novel, based on the film of the same name, about a droving expedition from the east Kimberleys, Western Australia through the Northern Territory and Queensland during World War II; secondary characters include Aboriginal characters.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

First known date: 1946

Works about this Work

South of Ealing : Recasting a British Studio’s Antipodean Escapade Adrian Danks , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Studies in Australasian Cinema , vol. 10 no. 2 2016; (p. 223-236)
'The five films made in Australia by Ealing Studios in the 1940s and 1950s have largely been analysed and ‘reclaimed’ (by figures like Bruce Molloy) as key works of Australian National Cinema, movies that occupy and populate a period of meagre feature film production while reworking popular genres such as the Western and the crime film. Although these films can be read symptomatically in terms of their ‘localised’ renderings of landscape, character and narrative situation, they have seldom been discussed in relation to the broader patterns of Ealing film production, the studio’s preoccupation with interiorised communities, work, Britishness and small-scale settlements on the geographic fringes of Britain and the Empire (such as Whisky Galore!), and the various other films (such as the Kenya shot and set Where No Vultures Fly and West of Zanzibar) that light upon far-flung or peripheral locations and settlements. This essay re-examines the Ealing ‘adventure’ through a transnational lens that focuses attention on the largely unacknowledged parallels and production symmetries between films such as Eureka Stockade and those that sit within the ‘mainstream’ of the studio’s output (e.g. Passport to Pimlico). It also places these five films (The Overlanders, Eureka Stockade, Bitter Springs, The Shiralee and The Siege of Pinchgut) in relation to the broader commercial fate of the studio throughout the late 1940s and 1950s.' (Publication abstract)
'Mrs Boss! We Gotta Get Those Fat Cheeky Bullocks into That Big Bloody Metal Ship!' : Live Export as Romantic Backdrop in Baz Luhrmann's 'Australia' Melissa Boyde , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Captured : The Animal within Culture 2013; (p. 60-74)
'Scorched Earth and Space' : The Overlanders (Harry Watt, 1946) Adrian Danks , 2012 single work review
— Appears in: Senses of Cinema , September no. 64 2012;

— Review of The Overlanders Harry Watt , 1946 single work film/TV
Reconciliation and the History Wars in Australian Cinema Felicity Collins , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Exhuming Passions : The Pressure of the Past in Ireland and Australia 2012; (p. 207-222)
'When The Proposition ( a UK/Australia co-production, directed by John Hillcoat and scripted by Nick Cave) was released in 2005, film reviewers had no qualms about claiming this spectacular saga of colonial violence on the Queensland frontier as a 'history' film. A reviewer on BBC Radio 4 described The Proposition as 'a bushranger Western...set in violent 1880s Australian outback exposing the bitter racial tensions between English and Irish settlers. A Sunday Times review declared that 'Australia's brutal post-colonial history is stripped of all the lies in a bloody clash of cultures between the British police, the Irish bushrangers and the Aborigines.' Foregrounding the film's revisionist spectacle of colonial violence, an Australian reviewer predicted that, despite 'scenes of throat-cutting torture, rape and exploding heads...The Proposition could be the most accurate look at our national history yet'. (Author's introduction, 207)
Indigenous or Exotic? Trees in Australian Cinema Chris Mann , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Etropic : Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics , no. 10 2011; (p. 141-152)
'This article examines trees in three Australian films to assess if they are seen from a white point of view or an Indigenous point of view.' (Author's abstract)
'Scorched Earth and Space' : The Overlanders (Harry Watt, 1946) Adrian Danks , 2012 single work review
— Appears in: Senses of Cinema , September no. 64 2012;

— Review of The Overlanders Harry Watt , 1946 single work film/TV
Desert Hauntings, Public Interiors and National Modernity : From 'The Overlanders' to 'Walkabout' and 'Japanese Story' Brigid Rooney , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 67 no. 1-2 2007; (p. 410-422)
The Overlanders at Home and Abroad Elizabeth Webby , 2005 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Studies , vol. 20 no. 1&2 2005; (p. 339-350)
The paper discusses the making and reception of the popular film The Overlanders and its representation of Australia. It argues that the involvement of writer Dora Birtles led to more positive images of women in the bush than was common at the time, but also that the film provides more positive representation of Indigenous Australian than Birtles's later novelisation.
The Wide Brown Screen Raymond Gill , 2008 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 4 October 2008; (p. 5)
The Forum : Dean Ashenden on Capturing Australianness Dean Ashenden , 2008 single work column
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 22-23 November 2008; (p. 2)
y separately published work icon Australian Film in the 1950s Tom O'Regan , 1987 Perth : Centre for Research in Culture and Communication (Murdoch University) , 1995 Z1611522 1987 single work criticism Tom O'Regan notes that 'historiographically, the Australian film industry of the 1950s is known for both the restrictive circumstances of production and its location films.' In this essay he examines both the development of particular frameworks for the appreciation of films (including Australian cinema) and the interrelationship between film and cultural spheres (particularly theatre and arts policy) across the decade. O'Regan also demonstrates how events and discourses of the 1950s formed an important conceptual and institutional pre-history for subsequent developments in the 1960s leading towards the 1970s Australian film industry revival.
Last amended 15 Oct 2014 10:16:48
  • Queensland,
  • Western Australia,
  • 1940s
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