Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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Many Australians are unaware of the threat posed to the top end of Australia as a direct result of a Japanese attack on Darwin during WW11. Many residential owners of farms and properties, including livestock, were either destroyed or moved to safety. This film covers one such major attempt to shift thousands of prime livestock south - away from the perceived threat of advancing enemy troops. This epic cattle drive involved a massive droving venture on a scale not attempted before (1,600 miles) - which the threat of an approaching invader left little time to properly organise. This arduous journey stretched from Western Australia, through the Northern Territory to Brisbane Queensland, a vast and challenging area indeed.
This film, being the first of British Ealing Studios/Australian branch productions - covers the trials of this mighty excursion, detailing the many dangers and obstructions encountered by the small band of locals - determined to save their livelihoods while keeping the vital meat supply from an approaching enemy. Aussie, Chips Rafferty does well as the lanky stockman who suggests and implements the risky drive, while another Aussie Peter Pagan turns in able support as ‘Sinbad' the ex-British sailor. Lovely Australian nursing orderly Daphne Campbell plays the daughter of a family who also joins the mighty trek southward – along with several experienced Aborigines hired as stockmen assisting with the cattle. All cast members work well together making this an impressive first-off Brit/Aussie feature. Young Daphne Campbell turned down future offers of roles overseas to stay home and raise a family.
While this production was financially successful, the following Ealing feature "Eureka Stockade" (a fine and much more involved venture) did not sell well, unfortunately ending the Ealing's Australian arm's operations. Both are recommended vintage productions for equal interest as entertainment and history. The often barren Outback settings are effectively shot in stark B/W adding further drama.
Some of the earlier short stories on this disc are OK but the latter sequences featuring that vibrant trio introduced in ‘Saludos Amigos'42 - as they go travelling around Latin America are absolutely brilliant! A maze of dreamlike images that dazzle and tantalize with astounding visual delights - many near indescribable! Sumptuous rhythmical musical moments, drenched with remarkable treatments and arrangements as this intrepid trio turn the territories of South America (allies of the day) inside out.
There are some odd moments with a way ‘over-amorous' Donald Duck (ogling deliriously after- live-action local gals!) as he's being guided (‘controlled') by his pal Jose, a cigar-chomping Parrot & the wildest Rooster of all time! (Panchito) Simply the best of the era's Disney animation on display here. Right up there with ‘Melody Time' and ‘Make Mine Music'. Something for kids and adults to enjoy equally. And, that talented Brazilian dancing lady is Aurora Miranda (Carmen's sister)
Morgan Neville's documentary about the remarkable Fred Rogers is nothing short of a revelation. That this kindly unassuming man succeeded in the insane world of television - is testimony to his unique ability to communicate everything about life's most important issues... and he did this with few words. Fred learnt about our most important basic human needs by coming to a thorough understanding of his own.
It's rare that a filmmaker can so utilize the medium to convey a total understanding of his subject. Then of course, when the subject is as uniquely special as Mr Rogers --with excellent footage to access-- I guess you're halfway home. Anyone who fails to recognise that what drives this special fellow is his genuine love of humanity, and his genuine desire to help everyone find the better person who lives within us all. With a few more like Mr Rogers, we could make many more healthy neighbourhoods.
Fred knew that to build a healthy mind, you have to begin with helping children wade through the swamp of the world's confusing messages - so they can make genuinely informed decisions through the mist of their own worldview. He also knew that the very medium he chose to work within was part of the problem. The force driving the largest part of television was not considering what was good for the child - but simply how it can position itself into the child's thought patterns - creating addictive viewing habits and future consumers.
Producers also knew that to push Fred for more in-the-can- Showtime was to be left with a sub-par end result. It was not about what the network wanted but what was good for the child. If Fred was being pushed for more commercial placement, then it would have been time for a new sponsor – end of argument. This film well and truly earns its position as the highest-grossing Biographical documentary of all time.
There are sad scenes of ill-informed groups that push Politically Correct ideologies, denouncing Roger's philosophy, and wrongly reducing it to being one of ‘Privilege' - missing entirely, the true intentions of his work. Those being; the realisation that we are all ‘equally' precious regardless of race, physicality, or wealth, therefore - with the ability to change for the better, our lives, and the world. Instead, we now see a divided world of ‘Identity Politics' ruled by a violently selfish, ‘It's About Me' mentality - further reducing the essence of life to one of hatred and self-centred ignorance.
They have thrown the baby out with the bathwater, allowing themselves to be blinded to the positive benefits of true Christian, Christ-likeness. Sure, there have been some that have faked (abused) their claims of Christianity but ‘true' Christian ideals were what Fred Rogers was demonstrating. So what is it they don't like, the love or the forgiveness?
Mr Rogers, we miss your genuine inclusive concern, and desperately need more like you!
This slickly produced movie tries hard to seem impartial - with a dig at both sides of the ‘for and against', health and moral aspects of the cigarette game. While it's smart (at times maybe too smart for its own good) like the ‘Spin' Drs themselves, it falls between the impossible task of trying to please everyone (a sure formula for failure at pleasing anyone).
Performances are mostly good and its rough-edged script is both crude and acerbic - with several perverse situations making it mostly suitable for those trendy types, who feel they have all the answers to anything. It's like an advertiser's handbook on how to sell everything to people who virtually need nothing – or politicians guide at how to say everything while committing to nothing.
What took place at dawn on December 3rd 1854 was to alter the Australian way of life forever. It's rather surprising that British Ealing Studios allowed for a reasonably balanced telling of this historical tale - relating the early battle for increased freedom from heavy British control. Bands of assorted immigrants lured to Australia by the call of the goldfields (along with locals) soon found that etching a life in such a young country was going to be an extremely difficult task. The British needed funds to develop a new nation so taxed, to desperation point, the mostly penniless miners into rebellion. When ‘diggers' licenses began to cost more than essential supplies the ‘rabble' (as the British labelled them) began to organise a civilian army to make a challenge – complete with their own ‘Southern Cross' flag.
For a film made in Australia at this time, it's quite a handsome effort – Ealing Studios gave it a reasonable budget and the cast are all hard working and suited to their immigrant origins. Editing and cinematography are exceptional, with Australian master cinematographer George Heath (40,000 Horsemen '40) creating many moody scenes and working well with British director Harry Watt (Where No Vultures Fly '51) All considered, they gave us a tough and good looking account of this landmark local battle.
Chips Rafferty acquits himself very well as Peter Lalor and a mixed support team add the all convincing back-up from all sides of the globe. Some of the action is quite surprisingly spectacular considering the budget, and tight editing makes it an exciting watch. Much better than expected from an early English/Australian Production – retelling an all important element of our not overly well-known past.