Charlie’s Country

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Charlie’s Country
Posted by Wilson Morales

Charlie's Country poster

If there was one name associated with the Aboriginal community, it’s its most famous native David Gulpilil. From the time he was 16 to his current age of 61, this gentle giant has been the face and spokesperson for his people and culture for over five decades. From his first film, 1971’s Walkabout to his work in “Crocodile” Dundee, The Tracker, and Rabbit-Proof Fence, Gulpilil has grown before our eyes, pretty much playing the same character. With his latest film, Charlie’s Country, Gulpilil gives in his finest performance to date in reteaming with director Rolf De Heer again. The two had worked on The Tracker and Ten Canoes. As a co-writer on the film, this is Gulpilil’s richest character he’s ever played. It’s a bravado performance that earned him Best Actor at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and rightly so. In Charlie’s Country, Gulpilil’s magnificent performance showcases the struggles that has existed between two cultures on the same land in Australia.

Charlie's Country - David Gulpilil as CharlieSet in Northern Australia where the government has taken control of the land and left the Aboriginal community to live in remote areas, Charlie is one of the oldest of his people. Set in his ways, he fails to grasp the reality that he can no longer live like he used and walkabout the land. As much as the local policeman Luke (Luke Ford) respects him to give him a pass every now and then, he won’t tolerate his ignorance of the law. When his friend Pete (producer Peter Djigirr)’s truck is taken away and his gun and spear are confiscated because he has no permit and it’s considered dangerous, Charlie decided to walk away and go further deep in the areas where no one goes so he can live in freedom without any law.

Charlie's Country - Peter Djigirr and David GulpililWith no money, a lack or food and clothing, and alone in the wilderness Charlie realizes that change in inevitable and he rather fight the good fight and die on his own terms rather than concede to the ways of the “white man.” Depressed, sick and his struggles with alcoholism puts Charlie on a collision with a world he’s avoided for years. For the world Charlie was born into doesn’t exist anymore and with each passing day brings him into the new Australia. It’s a matter of whether he can live in it.

Charlie's Country - David Gulpilil

What Charlie’s Country brings out is not only the acclaimed performance of Gulpilil, but a sad depiction of Australia’s indigenous people and what they have to endure when government takes over their land. De Heer is able to let us see Gulpilil do more than just track as he’s often seen in other film. Although seeing how the elder Aboriginal people have to give up their way of living is depressing, the film still moves by an extraordinary performance by one of Australia’s greatest actors.


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