'On a lonely cattle station in the Northern Territory, a newly born Aboriginal baby is adopted by a white woman in place of her own child who has died. The child is raised as a white child and forbidden any contact with the Aborigines on the station. Years later, Jedda is drawn by the mysteries of the Aboriginal people but restrained by her upbringing. Eventually she is fascinated by a full-blood Aboriginal, Marbuck, who arrives at the station seeking work and is drawn to his campfire by his song. He takes her away as his captive and returns to his tribal lands, but he is rejected by his tribe for having broken their marriage taboos. Pursued by the men from Jedda's station and haunted by the death wish of his own tribe, Marbuck is driven insane and finally falls, with Jedda, over a cliff.'
(Synopsis from the Australian Film, Television and Radio School website, http://library.aftrs.edu.au)
'At St Mary's Anglican Home, Alice Springs, in 1953, two best friends go head-to-head auditioning for the lead role in a movie, and face the prospect of leaving the Home for good.'
Source: Sydney Film Festival.
'In 1955 ‘Jedda’ was released in Australian cinemas and the international film world, starring Indigenous actors Rosalie Kunoth and Robert Tudawali. That year Eric Bell watched the film in the Liberty Cinema in Yass. Twelve years later he was dismayed to read a newly erected plaque in the main street of the Yass Valley village of Bowning. It plainly stated that the Ngunnawal people, on whose country Bowning stood, had been wiped out by an epidemic of influenza. The local Shire Council was responsible for the plaque; they also employed Bell’s father. The Bells were Ngunnawal people.
'The central paradox of 'Dispossession and the Making of Jedda (1955)' is the enthusiasm of a pastoral community, made wealthy by the occupation of Ngunnawal land, for a film that addressed directly the continuing legacy of settler-colonialism, a legacy that was playing out in their own relationships with the local Ngunnawal people at the time of their investment in the film. While the local council and state government agencies collaborated to minimize the visibility of Indigenous peoples, and the memory of the colonial violence at the heart of European prosperity, a number of wealthy and high-profile members of this pastoral community actively sought involvement in a film that would bring into focus the aftermath of colonial violence, the visibility of its survivors and the tensions inherent in policies of assimilation and segregation that had characterized the treatment of Ngunnawal people in their lifetimes.
'Based on oral histories, documentary evidence, images and film, 'Dispossession and the Making of Jedda (1955)' explores the themes of colonial nostalgia, national memory and family history. Charles Chauvel’s ‘Jedda’ (1955), a shared artefact of mid-twentieth-century settler-colonialism, is its fulcrum. The book newly locates the story of the genesis of ‘Jedda’ and, in turn, ‘Jedda’ becomes a cultural context and point of reference for the history of race relations it tells.' (Publication summary)
'Set against the shifting social and political backdrop of a nation throwing off the shackles of one war yet faced with the instability of the new world order, Reel Men probes the concept of 1950s masculinity itself, asking what it meant to be an Australian man at this time. Offering a compelling exploration of the Australian fifties, the book challenges the common belief that the fifties was a 'dead' era for Australian filmmaking. Reel Men engages with fourteen Australian feature films made and released between 1949 and 1962, and examines the multiple masculinities in circulation at this time. Dealing with beloved Australian films like Jedda (1955), Smiley (1956), and The Shiralee (1957), and national icons of the silver screen including Chips Rafferty, Charles 'Bud' Tingwell, and Peter Finch, Reel Men delves into our cultural past to dismantle powerful assumptions about film, the fifties, and masculinity in Australia.' (Publication summary)