My Brilliant Career (film)

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For the 1901 novel, see My Brilliant Career.
My Brilliant Career
My Brilliant Career FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by Gillian Armstrong
Produced by Margaret Fink
Written by Miles Franklin
Eleanor Witcombe
Starring Judy Davis
Sam Neill
Wendy Hughes
Music by Nathan Waks
Cinematography Donald McAlpine
Edited by Nicholas Beauman
Production
company
Release dates 17 August 1979 (1979-08-17)
Running time 100 minutes
Country Australia
Language English
Budget AU$890,000[1]
Box office AU$3,052,000 (Australia)

My Brilliant Career is a 1979 Australian drama film directed by Gillian Armstrong and based on the novel of the same name by Miles Franklin.

The film was released in Australia on 17 August 1979; in the United States on 6 October 1979 at the New York Film Festival and 1 February 1980 in limited U.S. theaters; in Japan on 2 January 1982; and in Poland on 23 July 2007 at Era New Horizons Film Festival. The film is also available in DVD in several regions, including Region 1 DVD. Some scenes were shot at the Ryrie homstead at Michelago, New South Wales.

Plot[edit]

Sybylla (Judy Davis), a headstrong, free spirited girl growing up in late 19th century Australia, dreams of a better life to the detriment of her work on a country farm. Her parents, upset by her dreams of grandeur, send her to board with her grandmother in hopes of teaching her proper manners and behaviour. She is soon courted by two local men, jackaroo Frank Hawdon (Robert Grubb) who she ignores, and well-to-do childhood friend Harry Beecham (Sam Neill) who she grows increasingly fond of.

Sybylla is sent to spend time at the Beecham's estate, and the feelings between her and Harry grow. She returns to her grandmothers' home when Harry is sent on a tour of their properties, with everyone on both estates coyly approving of their romance. Frank attempts to derail the couple through rumours, which leads to increasing tensions between the two. The two take turns attempting to make the other jealous at a ball, leading to Harry's surprise proposal. Sybylla gruffly rejects him, to everyone's surprise. Harry later reveals his rush was to protect Sybylla from his potential financial collapse. Sybylla counters by asking Harry to wait while she discovers herself, and asks him to delay his proposal for perhaps two years.

Sybylla is soon summoned to meet with her grandmother, where she learns she has been forced to take a job as governess/housekeeper to the family of an illiterate neighbour to whom her father owes money. Working in squalor, she manages to teach the children to read using the newspapers wallpapering their home. To her delight, she is sent home when the parents become convinced (incorrectly) she is wooing their eldest son. Harry visits and proposes again, but she again rejects him, stating her intent is to become a writer.

The movie ends with her reading (n voiceover) from her novel, My Brilliant Career, before sending it off for publication.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Margaret Fink bought the rights to the novel and the Australian Film Development Corporation suggested she hire a writer to adapt it. Fink went with Eleanor Witcombe. Gillian Armstrong met Margaret Fink while working as an assistant art director on the latter's The Removalists (1975) and Fink was impressed with her short film A Hundred A Day. She subsequently hired Armstrong to direct.[2][3]

Greater Union invested $200,000, the NSW Film Corporation $450,000 with the balance coming from private investors.[1]

Gillian Armstrong brought in script editor Ted Ogden to work on the script, which caused tension between her and Witcombe. For a time Witcombe threatened to take her name off the credits but ultimately decided not to.[1]

The role of Sybylla was cast in January 1978 but when the actress was tested in costume it was felt she was wrong for the role. Judy Davis was cast instead.[1]

Shooting took place over eight weeks in October and November 1978 in the Monaro region of New South Wales.[4]

Reception[edit]

The film was successfully shown at Cannes in 1979 and proved to be very popular.[1]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Won[edit]

  • Australian Cinematographers Society
    • Cinematographer of the Year (Donald McAlpine)
  • Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards
    • KCFCC Award for Best Foreign Film (tied with Blechtrommel, Die)
  • London Critics Circle Film Awards
    • Special Achievement Award (Gillian Armstrong for her directing debut)

Nominated[edit]

Box Office[edit]

My Brilliant Career grossed $3,052,000 at the box office in Australia,[6] which is equivalent to $11,933,320 in 2009 dollars.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e David Stratton, The Last New Wave: The Australian Film Revival, Angus & Robertson, 1980 p217-220
  2. ^ Peter Beilby & Scott Murray, "Margaret Fink", Cinema Papers, March-April 1979 p288-290
  3. ^ Peter Beilby & Scott Murray, "Gillian Armstrong", Cinema Papers, March-April 1979 p291-293
  4. ^ Brian McFarlane, "My Brilliant Career", Australian Film 1978-1992, Oxford Uni Press, p43
  5. ^ "Festival de Cannes: My Brilliant Career". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  6. ^ Film Victoria - Australian Films at the Australian Box Office

External links[edit]