My Brilliant Career (film)
|My Brilliant Career|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Gillian Armstrong|
|Produced by||Margaret Fink|
|Written by||Eleanor Witcombe|
|Based on||My Brilliant Career
by Miles Franklin
|Music by||Nathan Waks|
|Edited by||Nicholas Beauman|
|Distributed by||Analysis Film Releasing Corporation|
|17 August 1979|
|Box office||AU$3,052,000 (Australia)|
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 on 1 February 1980 in limited U.S. theaters.
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), whom she ignores, and well-to-do childhood friend Harry Beecham (Sam Neill), whom she grows increasingly fond of.
Sybylla is sent to spend time at the Beecham estate, and her feelings increase toward Harry. She returns to her grandmother's 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 summoned by her grandmother, and is told she must 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) that 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 (in voiceover) from her novel, My Brilliant Career, before sending it off for publication.
- Judy Davis as Sybylla Melvyn
- Sam Neill as Harry Beecham
- Wendy Hughes as Aunt Helen
- Robert Grubb as Frank Hawdon
- Max Cullen as Mr. McSwatt
- Aileen Britton as Grandma Bossier
- Peter Whitford as Uncle Julius
- Patricia Kennedy as Aunt Gussie
- Alan Hopgood as Father
- Julia Blake as Mother
- David Franklin as Horace
- Marion Shad as Gertie
- Aaron Wood as Stanley
- Sue Davies as Aurora
- Gordon Piper as Barman
- Simone Buchanan as Mary-Anne
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.
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.
Reception and release
The film was shown at Cannes in 1979 and received a warm reception. The film had its international debut in New York City at the New York Film Festival on 1 February 1980, followed by a release 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.
Awards and nominations
- Australian Film Institute
- Australian Cinematographers Society
- Cinematographer of the Year (Donald McAlpine)
- BAFTA Awards
- 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)
- Academy Awards
- Best Costume Design (Anna Senior)
- Australian Film Institute
My Brilliant Career grossed $3,052,000 at the box office in Australia, which is equivalent to $11,933,320 in 2009 dollars.
- David Stratton, The Last New Wave: The Australian Film Revival, Angus & Robertson, 1980, pp. 217-220
- Peter Beilby & Scott Murray, "Margaret Fink", Cinema Papers, March-April 1979, pp. 288-290
- Peter Beilby & Scott Murray, "Gillian Armstrong", Cinema Papers, March-April 1979, pp. 291-293
- Brian McFarlane, "My Brilliant Career", Australian Film 1978-1992, Oxford Uni Press, p. 43
- "Festival de Cannes: My Brilliant Career". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 24 May 2009.
- Film Victoria - Australian Films at the Australian Box Office
- My Brilliant Career at the Internet Movie Database
- My Brilliant Career at AllMovie
- My Brilliant Career at the TCM Movie Database
- My Brilliant Career at Box Office Mojo
- My Brilliant Career at Rotten Tomatoes
- My Brilliant Career at Oz Movies