Australian Rules (2002)

 

 

Director:  Paul Goldman

Starring:  Nathan Phillips (Gary 'Blacky' Black), Luke Carroll (Dumby Red), Lisa Flanagan (Clarence), Tom Budge (Pickles), Simon Westaway (Bob Black), Celia Ireland (Liz Black), Kevin Harrington (Arks), Martin Vaughan (Darcy), Tony Briggs (Pretty), Brian Torry (Glenn Bright), Max Fairchild (Big Mac), Eileen Darley (Shirl), Paul Simpson (Bar Regular), Denis Noble (Bar Regular), Kelton Pell (Tommy Red)

racism in the local football team

 

Spoiler warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie. 

The local rugby team is going to be playing for the premiership title for the town that was the 1993 runner up as tidy town, Prospect Bay, Australia. The best player by far is Dumby Red, an aborigine. The coach is a bit overwrought and loves to yell at his players. Dumby's white friend on the team is Blacky.  One of the aborigines, a huge young man, gives a car ride to Dumby and Blacky. Blacky gets dropped off at the bar.  As the car leaves, Blacky speaks a few words of aborigine language while waving good-bye.  For this he gets mockingly teased by the white kids. 

Blacky goes into the local bar where his physically big father is drinking beers with his mates.  The men buy Blacky and his buddy Pickles a couple of beers.  Blacky talks for a little while with Dumby's father who sits by himself. 

Blacky and Pickles along with another chum go biking.  They find a dead kangaroo on the road and Pickles uses a knife to open up the animal.. He then extracts a handful of squirming maggots.

At rugby practice the police arrive and arrest one of the aborigine players.  Many of the aborigines throw rocks at the police van as it pulls away.  The coach tells his team that apparently their fellow player was involved in a robbery. 

Now that one of the players is out of the game, the coach makes Blacky the rock.  (That's the fellow who competes against a fellow from the other team to jump for the starting ball.).   An attractive aborigine girl named Clarence says hello to Blacky.  They appear to like each other.  The huge aborigine berates the coach about the way he deals with the aborigines saying that he should stop pushing them around.

Blacky talks with an older man who (for reasons unknown) raises maggots.  He asks the maggot raiser if he ever went with a "black" woman.  The old man tells him that he has no. 

Blacky does not get along well with his father and brother who are very like each other.  His bully of a dad calls him a "gutless fucking wonder." 

The big day arrives.  This is the day the coach has been waiting for some twenty years.  He is very nervous when the aborigine players are a bit late showing up for the pre-game session.  The other team is filled with huge players.  The biggest guy on the other team is the rock and Blacky has to compete with him for the starting ball.   Every time the ball is thrown up between Black and Goliath, the bigger man naturally is able to knock the ball to one of his players. 

The first part of the game is a route.  During the break, however, Blacky's mom gives him some really good pointers and he and Dumby work out a strategy to beat the other team.  Following his mother's advice, Blacky is able to beat Goliath to the ball.  Putting this strategy into play, the Prospect Bay team is able to go one point ahead of the other team.  Goliath is about to score a goal with only Blacky there to stop him.  Goliath acts as if he is going to simply run over Blacky.  As Goliath nears him, Blacky leaps up.  But Goliath dodges in the same direction that Blacky leaps .  The end result is that the two players bang heads and both are knocked unconscious. 

There is a big celebration of the victory at the local meeting hall.  It has been thirty-eight years since they had a premiership in town.  At the get-together Blacky is given a trophy for snatching victory from the jaws of Goliath.  Then the trophy for the best all-around player is presented.  Blacky and Dumby both clearly expect Dumby to get the trophy.  But the trophy is given to a white player, the son of the rugby coach.  Dumby is furious and walks out, followed by Blacky.  Outside, Dumby sarcastically comments to Blacky:  "Best man on the ground, eh?  As long as he's white."  Dumby then walks away.

Clarence comes up to Blacky and they talk.  Blacky explains that he was not the hero of the game.  He was frightened by the on-coming Goliath and tried to leap out of the way of the charging man.  Goliath, however, decided to dodge in the same direction and their heads collided.  Blacky ended up being a "hero" by accident.  Blacky then throws the trophy into the bay.  Clarence smokes marijuana with Blacky.  Then Clarence has to leave. 

Pickles had spied on Blacky and Clarence and now he teases Blacky.  Later Pickles burns all the maggots belonging to the maggot raiser.  Blacky sleeps outside. 

Two men with ski-hoods break into the local bar.  They find one of the town's influential men asleep on the pool table.  When he starts to get up, the huge one of the couple strikes the man in the head knocking him out.  The noise from the blow awakens Blacky's father sleeping in the back room of the bar. Dad grabs a double-barreled shot-gun and loads it.  He then starts to find the cause of the noise.  He opens a door and finds the smaller man.  He fires one of the barrels killing the robber.  But then the huge man comes from behind and grabs the shotgun from his hands.  Blacky's dad is very scared and begs the man not to shoot.  The robber fires the shotgun into the ceiling of the room and leaves.

The ruckus awakens Blacky sleeping outside.  He rushes into the bar and finds Dumby dead and his father.  Blacky is very upset.  The police question Blacky's father.  Blacky is very mad at his father for killing Dumby without warning.  The maggot raiser is upset about the burned maggots, but he gets no sympathy from the saddened Blacky.  Blacky asks the coach if they are doing anything for Dumby and the coach says no.  Blacky talks with his mother who tries to defend his dad.  Blacky responds:  "Fuck him!  Fuck you!" 

A group of aborigine boys throw rocks at Blacky's house.  Clarence visits Blacky while his family is out of the home.  After slapping him for continually talking about her deceased brother, she kisses Blacky.  They lie together on a bed and they fall asleep.  Blacky's father comes home and sees his son with the black girl and goes ballistic.  He starts manhandling Blacky and then calls Clarence a "black slut" and tells her to get out of his house. 

Blacky stays at Pickle's house for awhile.  He sneaks back home at night.  His mother allows him to take his father's prized Nuts and Fruits chocolate bar.  Blacky throws a rock through the store window of the coach's butcher shop.  He then takes out from the display the medal for "best on ground".   He then sleeps outside for the night.  The next morning he crosses into aborigine land to attend the funeral for Dumby.  The aborigine boys try to stop him from attending, but Clarence intercedes for him.  Blacky places the medal from the butcher shop into Dumby's casket. 

Blacky gets a ride home from Dumbey's father.  But dad won't let Blacky enter the house.  He starts beating up his son.  He knocks him down a couple of times, but Blacky keeps getting back up.  Finally, dad gets into his car and drives away. 

Blacky says that the aborigine boys stopped coming to town any more, which meant the death of the rugby team.  Dad came home for a few days and then he took off.  Clarence and he are leaving.  "There is nothing here for us now.  Not in this town.  Not in this tidy town."

 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

 

See The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978).

 

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