The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson

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BBFC Ratingf-rated FilmThe Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson

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GenreDrama, Thriller, Western
Director(s)Leah Purcell
Writer(s)Leah Purcell
LanguageEnglish, Aboriginal
Running Time1HR 48MINS
SeasonMain Programme

The feature debut of filmmaker, playwright, author and actor Leah Purcell is a searing retelling of Henry Lawson’s 1892 short story. Expanded from Purcell’s own award-winning stage adaptation into a tremendously compelling Outback Western, it reclaims and reimagines Lawson’s story – a classic of colonial literature – from an Indigenous feminist perspective, depicting the struggles of a woman caught between two cultures. 

Australia, 1893: Molly Johnson’s (Purcell) husband is away droving cattle, leaving her alone to care for their four children at their remote Snowy Mountains homestead. Despite being heavily pregnant, Molly is a formidable frontierswoman and keeps most threats – whether from nature and other people – at bay. But when Yadaka (Rob Collins), an Aboriginal man on the run from white law enforcement, intrudes on the sanctuary she has carved out, she is forced to confront truths about her past that place them both in danger. 

A study of Indigenous female identity in late 1800s Australia, The Drover’s Wife interrogates not only the country’s past, but also the lingering social injustices of the present day. Deftly shot by DP Mark Wareham, whose camera accentuates the contrasts between stunning landscapes and scenes of brutal violence, Purcell’s ambitious, engrossing thriller immerses her audience in 19th century British colonial Australia, exploring the cruelty of its racist and sexist ruling class and its grievous effects on individual lives.

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