Peter Weir Short Film Collection is a wonderful collection of some early works of this great Australian director, at a time when the local film industry was beginning to take great strides forward. These films may not appeal to the average mainstream film viewer, but if you’re keen to view the rarely seen beginnings of Peter Weir’s career, or you are a fan of early Australian cinema, then this will be an asset to your collection.
Reading through the current filmography of Weir’s impressive body of work, it’s safe to say that not many filmmakers could match the level of consistent quality in their work. From these humble beginnings, Peter Weir has firmly established himself as one of world’s finest film directors.
Three To Go: Michael (29:29) 1969 – B&W
This film, Michael, is one part of a trilogy of stories, combined into a film entitled Three To Go . The other two stories, “Judy” and “Toula”, were both directed by Brian Hannant. The Peter Weir instalment, Michael, centres on the problems of young Australian people in a time of rebellion and confusion, due mainly to the war in Vietnam and changing social issues. The film opens with an impressive fantasy scene, involving civil war in the streets of Sydney.
Michael (Matthew Burton), lives with his parents in a comfortable middle class family home. However, there is a rebellious side to Michael, which threatens to burst out. He falls under the influence of activist Grahame (Grahame Bond), and begins to spend time with him and his group of friends. As much as Michael tries to fit in with the group, his middle class family ties ultimately hold him back from his revolutionary dreams.
Three Directions In Pop Music (10:18) 1972 – Colour
This is an interesting snapshot of some Australian music artists of the early seventies, all quite different in styles. The first artist featured is Wendy Saddington and Teardrop, who combined an element of mime with their music. The second featured artist is jug music band The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band. Third is the heavier and psychedelic rock music of Indelible Murtceps.
Incredible Floridas (11:45) 1972 – Colour
This short film documents Australian composer Richard Meale’s homage to the young French poet, Arthur Rimbaud. Meale composed a music piece for woodwind, percussion and strings which he titled “Incredible Floridas”. This music is based on the poetry of the Frenchman, which many may find a little obscure.
Homesdale (47:54) 1971 – B&W –
Homesdale is a black comedy with a twist. It was also the last film in which Peter Weir “the actor” appears in a small cameo role.
Many elements in this film recur with much more polish in his later films, and in particular there is a very similar sense of underlying menace and dread in Weir’s first feature film, The Cars That Ate Paris.
Guests arrive to spend the weekend at the Homesdale Hunting Lodge. This is an isolated summer lodge, staffed by people who look more like mental hospital staff. All this is overseen by the bizarre and creepy lodge director, who seems to know everything about his guests. The purpose of the lodge is to help fulfil the secret fantasies and desires of the guests, all of whom have different reasons for being there.
The guests include Mr Vaughan (Barry Donely), Mr Levy (James Lear), Mrs Sharpe (Doreen Warburton), Miss Greenoak (Kate Fitzpatrick), Mr Kevin (Grahame Bond) and most interesting of all, Mr Malfrey (Geoff Malone).
All the characters have some element of interest to their personalities except Mr Malfrey. He is particularly introverted, much to the frustration of the director and his staff. As all the guests participate in the bizarre games and situations concocted by the staff, Mr Malfrey fails to make an impression. When he begins to receive the taunts of Mr Kevin, a more sinister and disturbing side of Mr Malfrey’s personality starts to emerge.