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This review is from: Van Diemens Land [DVD] (DVD)
This is a great and very effective film. Considering there wasn't much of a budget the film came together beautifully. I thought it was perfectly cast with great acting and it was clear that the actors were prepared to give their all in such uncomfortable surroundings. The directing, cinematography and the music brought it all together to create an atmosphere that was both haunting and menacing. It gave a sense of the isolation of Macquarie Harbour and the realistic feel of the times. I was also impressed with the use of the Gaelic language.
I think it's a shame that low budget films like this don't get the publicity they deserve when it's clear that this is great film making. This film didn't even get a look in in the UK. I only stumbled across it myself because of my own book about Sarah Island. I think sometimes the UK finds their colonial history a bit hard to swallow. The fact is the brutal history of the convicts of Australia is so rich the stories need to be told, and this one was told very well indeed.
I won't spoil the plot too much but basically in 1822 8 convicts escape from the most isolated prison in the world, Sarah Island in Van Dieman's Land, now known as Tasmania. They have a minimal amount of food and when it runs out they start to eat each other. So notorious was Sarah Island convicts would rather resort to desperate measures than return to the Island prison.