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DVD review - Samson And Delilah

by Toni Garden. Published Wed 16 Jun 2010 12:24, last updated: 20/07/10

Having been awarded the opening weekend slot of the Un Certain Regard in Cannes film festival this year, Warwick Thornton’s debut feature of Aboriginal teen couple Samson and Delilah has certainly struck a chord in the world of film.

Living in the isolated community outside Alice Springs are Samson (Rowan McNamera) and Delilah (Marissa Gibson). Samson wakes to participate in his past time of petrol sniffing.

The fumes allow Samson an escape and to dwell happily in the desert, while Delilah spends her days caring for her elderly Nana and painting dot pieces that are taken back to the city to be sold to art galleries and pay for medication.

A community that doesn’t rely on material or the constant communication obsessed ethos of the “modern” world, theirs is an existence that relies on nothing more than the land and what local wildlife is on offer.

Simple pleasures are taken in music whether it be from the locals playing the same, upbeat tempo on their basic drum and guitar kit or when Delilah steals away to listen to the same tape.

The quiet, repetitive cycle of aboriginal life is set against the stunning back drop of the Australian outback and Thornton, (who wrote, directed and shot the film on a hand held camera) has used the setting and silence to great effect and is not afraid to let the cinematography do the talking.

When tragedy strikes and Delilah’s Nana fails to wake for her morning pills, life for the youngsters is thrown into turmoil.

Tempers flare among the community and Delilah is blamed for her grandmothers’ death, after beating her Delilah is isolated from the already isolated community.

Seeing through his petrol high, Samson steals Delilah and the community car and heads for nearby civilisation, Alice Springs.

Life is rough and raw in a world so different from the Aboriginal village and Thornton has shown the brutality of an alien world in a blunt and matter of fact way.

The harsh, judgemental society that the couple now live in is evoked in the suspicious looks and immediate rebuttle from the good-living White community as Delilah tries to sell paintings that have previously been so readily taken from her village by a collector.

As the situation becomes more desperate the couple’s fate seems sewn up and they take shelter with a local homeless drunk named Gonzo (played by Thornton’s real life alcoholic brother Scott) who seems to be the only one that takes pity on the pair, perhaps too drunk to care or the only one able to see them as human beings.

DVD extras include interviews from Gibson, McNamera and Thornton talking about each of their experiences making the film and some behind the scenes footage of Thornton coaxing his inexperienced actors from their shells and getting some fantastic performances in return.

Superbly played by McNamera and Gibson, first time acting performances by the 15-year-olds show real heart and conviction in their craft and an obvious admiration for their director in their interviews.

A beautifully crafted film that humanises the petrol sniffers that are so often written off in Australian society and a self declared “cinematographer by trade... and by love” this film is the full package.

Samson and Delilah is released on June, 21

DVD Extras also include:
Behind-the-Scenes Footage
Interviews with Cast & Crew
UK Theatrical Trailer
Q&A Screening with Director Warwick Thornton
Director Warwick Thornton's short films

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