Jamie Kennedy's favorite movie review site
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Advertisement

Overall Rating
4.15

Awesome55%
Worth A Look: 30%
Just Average: 0%
Pretty Crappy: 5%
Sucks: 10%

2 reviews, 8 user ratings


Latest Reviews

MFA by Jay Seaver

You Only Live Once by Jay Seaver

November (2017) by Jay Seaver

Friendly Beast by Jay Seaver

Foreigner, The (2017) by Jay Seaver

Tom of Finland by Rob Gonsalves

Happy Death Day by Jay Seaver

78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene by Jay Seaver

Death Note: Light Up the New World by Jay Seaver

Brawl in Cell Block 99 by Peter Sobczynski

subscribe to this feed


Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, The
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Rob Gonsalves

"A masterpiece about racial despair and rage boiling over."
5 stars

In the otherwise forgettable 1985 potboiler "Badge of the Assassin," there’s an exchange between a black cop and a black revolutionary that I think of often (it was also used as a sample in the incendiary 1992 single “Guerrillas in the Mist,” by Consolidated ft. Paris).

The cop tells the revolutionary that what he did “doesn’t make any sense.” The revolutionary shouts, “It do not have to! It only has to get noticed. They have to understand — oppressing people costs!” Well, those last three words could serve as leitmotif for America these last few years, and also for the morally complex 1978 Australian drama The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith. This film, perhaps still the greatest of Aussie cinema, is recommended to anyone who doesn’t understand why Ferguson burned — why it had to.

It’s the turn of the century in Australia, and eager young Jimmie Blacksmith (Tommy Lewis), a “half-caste” (half white, half Aborigine), goes from one job to the next, being denied full proper wages for the work he does for casually racist white landowners. It gets harder and harder for Jimmie to hold his placatory smile in place, especially when he marries a white woman (Angela Punch) and she gets pregnant. Jimmie can’t support a wife and child on what he makes, and pretty soon some local women conspire to make sure Jimmie no longer even gets groceries in exchange for services rendered. The agenda, it’s clear, is to send Jimmie back to the squalor he’s trying so hard to transcend.

Jimmie has rejected the black world — the Aborigines are required to live in repulsive circumstances — and won’t be accepted into the white world. He’s a true nowhere man, and it drives him insane. He goes to the house of those meddling local women, accompanied by his not-entirely-with-it uncle, and before anyone knows what’s happening Jimmie has killed or maimed several of them with his axe, leaving only a crying infant alive. Thus begins a terrible, personal war on whoever has slighted Jimmie, and along the way he no longer leaves infants alive. He’s too far gone. The movie in no way justifies his rampage, but it has patiently laid the sociological groundwork so that we understand why it happened. Oppressing people costs.

Released in America two years after its Australian premiere, Chant was a calling card for the strong director Fred Schepisi, who soon moved to Hollywood; his best-known mainstream film is probably the superb Steve Martin rom-com Roxanne. Here, Schepisi works in a classical style, no funny business with the camera or with editing, just a clean and horrifying account of a man breaking down in insupportable conditions, his anguish both mocked and heightened by the wide-open spaces preserved in flawless widescreen compositions. The movie is gorgeous pure filmmaking even when we wince at the violence — and we do, because Schepisi doesn’t present it as cathartic or exciting. Especially not cathartic. Jimmie goes over the edge and it does nothing for him other than to get his cheerful half-brother (Freddy Reynolds) killed and to get his own face half shot-off.

Based on a novel by Thomas Keneally (Schindler’s List), which in turn was based on a true story, the film might these days, in more sensitive times, be called “problematic”: After all, does not Jimmie fulfill the whites’ jaundiced view of him as a savage? Yes, he does, and that’s the tragedy. Jimmie wanted so badly to be welcomed into white society (he was raised by a white minister and his wife), and when he was systematically rejected, he had no self to fall back on, no identity other than the “other” he was shown that he was. He had no choice but to become the “black bastard” his world insisted upon. The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith is both a national epic and a national nightmare, and of course the nightmare extends beyond Australia.

It may trouble the sleep of anyone who is part of the white-privileged group, who scoffs at “Black Lives Matter,” who has knee-jerk racist panicky reactions to the mere presence of black people because they know deep down that oppressing people costs, and who knows when the bill will come due?

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8029&reviewer=416
originally posted: 08/24/15 16:30:17
[printer] printer-friendly format  
For more in the Australian series, click here.

User Comments

6/13/15 Genius A masterpiece. 5 stars
8/11/13 PAUL SHORTT VIOLENT BUT POWERFUL DENUNCIATION OF RACISM. BASED ON FACT 5 stars
5/07/07 me never again! 2 stars
2/11/07 Grumnut Excellent film-love to find it on DVD 5 stars
12/06/06 chienne Only for the intelligent, unprecious & unpretentious. 5 stars
6/19/04 Rise H. This movie is worth viewing if you can find it. I remember it well. It is fantastic. 5 stars
3/26/04 crappy crappymccrapcrapcrap 1 stars
8/06/03 Seve Smith it is one of the worst movies i have ever seen 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:


Discuss this movie in our forum

USA
  N/A
  DVD: 18-Nov-2008

UK
  N/A

Australia
  22-Jun-1978 (M)


Directed by
  Fred Schepisi

Written by
  Fred Schepisi

Cast
  Tommy Lewis
  Freddy Reynolds
  Ray Barrett
  Jack Thompson
  Angela Punch
  Peter Carroll



Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Privacy Policy | | HBS Inc. |   
All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast