1970's Australia. Freak weather conditions are hitting the country. A school in the outback is suddenly hit by a ferocious rainstorm combined with huge hailstones, and a deluge of rain is swamping the city. Corporate lawyer David Burton(Richard Chamberlain) is asked to represent a group of Aborigines suspected of drowning a fellow aborigine. David gets drawn into the case, whilst his marriage is struggling and he is also experiencing violent dreams. After meeting one of the accused, the charismatic Chris(Gulpilil) and an old Aboriginal magician Charlie, David becomes convinced that ancient tribal laws are responsible for the death, but is he getting himself caught up in things way beyond his understanding?
I saw this film one night on Channel 4 in its infancy. As far as I know it hasn't been shown again. I managed to find a Polish DVD of the film on ebay(not the release in the product description, the Polish release runs the full 106 mins), and watched it hoping it would be as great as I remembered it. I need not have worried. Its a brilliant film.
Director Weir tells a very leisurely story here. In fact the pace is almost stately at times. Don't let this put you off though, as its enthralling from beginning to end. Its also a film that relies on the visual aspect to tell its story, as there are long scenes with little or no dialogue, just lush cinematography and heavy with symbolism. It weaves a delicious mystery, and then leaves the viewer with an extremely ambigious ending. What a sucker punch by Weir! The acting is superb, especially from an unusually subdued Chamberlain, and David Gulpilil, in the credits as just Gulpilil, who is tremendous as Chris. Theres also an evocative, dreamlike music score that compliments the dreamy visuals perfectly. Highly recommended.
Please note that this review is not for the listed DVD, but for the Polish Region 2 release from Monolith Video, with optional Polish subtitles. Its well worth tracking down. 5 out of 5