That Eye, the Sky

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First edition (publ. McPhee Gribble)

That Eye, the Sky is a 1986 novel by multi-award winning Australian author Tim Winton. It follows a 13-year-old boy ("Ort") coping with life in a small country town after his father has a serious car-related incident. Ort struggles with understanding the world that surrounds him and he experiences life's challenges which helps him grow with atheism and knowledge. Ort is very worried about his family and thinks something is going to happen to them, he has a mind like no other 12-year-old.


The Publishers Weekly called the novel a coming of age record. Through a family trauma the stranger enters the family and it is Orts love that shines through.[1]

The Los Angeles Times writes that, "The great strength of the novel is in the way the grotesque contrasts and parallels in human life are spread out, examined and accepted."[2]

Ort sees his family being torn apart and his life and the family's is disrupted, The book "is .. a powerful exploration of the nature of hope and faith"[3]


Film Version[edit]

That Eye, the Sky
Directed by John Ruane
Starring Jamie Croft
Lisa Harrow
Release date
Country Australia
Language English
Box office A$53,100 (Australia)[4]

The film adaptation was directed by John Ruane and released in 1994.

Ruane later said:

I think the mistake I made with That Eye, the Sky is not to have more humour in it, because the book had a lot of humour. But, unfortunately, with the novel being written in the first person, a lot of the humour comes from the little boy interpreting the events and the situations he finds himself in and that he observes. So we are party to his sense of humour via his inner thoughts. When you pull that away, you have to come up with an orthodox third person approach. I really wish we had come up with more humour.[5]

The film was made by the company of Fred Schepisi who later claimed the film was bad:

Because the director didn't know what he was doing or what side he was on. You've got to take a side. He went on an exploration. An exploration is all right but you've got to do it from a point of view.[6]


The book was adapted by Richard Roxburgh and Justin Monjo with the first performance at the New Theatre, 15 March to 16 April 2016. [7] A review of the play described it as "...a dark and mysterious play anchored by a cast at the top of their game .. not an emotionally engaging play, but it is an interesting one". [8]


  1. ^ "That Eye, the Sky Tim Winton, Author". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  2. ^ "That Eye, the Sky Tim Winton". Pan Macmillan. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  3. ^ "That Eye, The Sky: A Novel Paperback – April 30, 2002". Amazon. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  4. ^ "Australian Films at the Australian Box Office", Film Victoria accessed 13 November 2012
  5. ^ "Interview with John Ruane", Signis, 22 August 1995 accessed 20 November 2012
  6. ^ "Interview with Fred Schepisi", Signis, 22 December 1998 access 20 November 2012
  7. ^ "That Eye, The Sky". New Theater. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  8. ^ "Review: New Theatre's That Eye, The Sky 7 April 2016". Aussie Theatre. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 

External links[edit]