Movie review / ‘High Ground’ (MA)

Share Canberra's trusted news:

“High Ground” (MA) ****

THERE’S more to director Stephen Johnson’s NT film than merely good guys v bad guys.

The screenplay by Chris Anastassiades is more than merely an actioner, a tale of vengeance or a thriller. 

It delivers a message that, in the midst of ongoing tensions between indigenous Australians and the rest of us, both sides need to recognise and do something to make things much better.

In the 1930s, the Commonwealth governed the territories directly. Beyond the European settlements in the NT, day-to-day governing involved police presence most of all and indigenous lives had little value. Most of the non-indigenous characters in “High Ground” are police. They’re doing their best but Aboriginal welfare is not high on their priorities list. 

The story unfolds on an Arnhem Land cattle station where, 12 years ago, white men shot all the members of an Aboriginal family except for one small boy, Gutjuk, (played as an adult by Jacob Junior Nayinggul) and his uncle Baywara (Sean Mununggurr). 

Now working for station owner Travis (Simon Baker), Gutjuk’s rather in love with his daughter Claire (Caren Pistorius) who feels the same about him.

Baywara’s followers have been burning houses. A small NT police contingent comes to the homestead. Led by Insp Moran (Jack Thompson) who with gentle bombast at one point tells an Aborigine that he is the second-most-senior person in the NT police. What happens in the next few days forms the story’s main body.

The plot may be fiction but its substance has a sense of positive reality. I won’t spoil it for you by trying to summarise it here. 

As well as looking magnificent (the exteriors were shot in Arnhem Land and Kakadu National Park), all the performances are convincing and the characters and their actions are all credible. 

I urge readers to see this film. I hope it does well throughout Australia and overseas. 

Its vision of the relationship does much to set the record straight. Its entertainment values are profound. And it stands as an undeniable reminder (as if one were necessary) that Australians can make great movies.

At Palace Electric, Hoyts Belconnen, Limelight and Dendy

Who Can You Trust?

In a world beleaguered by spin and confused messages, there's never been more need for diverse, trustworthy, independent journalism in Canberra.

Who can you trust? Well, for more than 25 years, "CityNews" has proudly been an independent, free, family-owned news magazine, serving the national capital with quality, integrity and authority. Through our weekly magazine and daily through our digital platforms, we constantly and reliably deliver high-quality and diverse opinion, news, arts, socials and lifestyle columns.

If you trust our work online and believe in the power of independent voices, I encourage you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support will be invested back into our journalism so we can continue to provide a valuably different view of what's happening around you and keep free.

Click here to make your donation and you will be supporting the future of journalism and media diversity in the ACT.

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

"High Ground" (MA) ****
Previous articleMovie review / ‘Occupation: Rainfall’ (MA)
Next article‘Good Folk’ coming to Queanbeyan
Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

Leave a Reply