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:: David Williamson Collection Vol.1

This is the first instalment of a worthy tribute to Australian screenplay legend David Williamson and the films released from his masterful pen. He is the writer of such film classics as Gallipoli (1981), The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), Don’s Party (1976), and Phar Lap (1983). Williamson won 3 AFI awards for best screenplay and remains Australia’s greatest ever screenwriter. This DVD collection features four of his best-loved films.

Williamson's emergence as a playwright came through his association with La Mama in the late-Sixties, an alternative theatre founded by Betty Burstall in inner suburban Melbourne. The experimental milieu attracted a diverse coterie of writers, artists, academics and students and was determinately experimental. He would go on to write original screenplays for film and television, Gallipoli (directed by Peter Weir) being his most well known work in the genre. Film versions of Williamson’s plays were made as early as 1969 and it is some of these works that form the core of David Williamson: Collection Vol. 1.

There are three films scripted by Williamson, and are among his best known as well as most important plays: Don’s Party, The Removalists, and Travelling North. A Williamson-penned script to the BBC-ABC miniseries, The Four Minute Mile also finds its way into the collection. The result is a well packaged, technically sound 4-DVD set that stands as a key document of Williamson’s dramatic range, thematic concerns and his major contribution to Australian theatre, cinema and television. This set spans across two decades and features some of Australias best loved acting talent in four quite different movies.

DON'S PARTY is the mid seventies classic that defined the era, a group of friends (including John Hargreaves and the brilliant Graham Kennedy) gather together for an election night party in 1969 and let sex, drink and previously hidden secrets take over. It's a stunning piece of work and one of the best Australian movies of the seventies.

THE REMOVALISTS from 1975 has kept most of its stage play origins intact, it's a sometimes full on story of an abused wife seeking protection from the police to help remove her furniture from her home and although the wife's husband is a nasty piece of work he ends up becoming the ultimate victim of the movie in a shock twist in the closing minutes. John Hargreaves again stars as the naive cop who allows himself to be caught in the crossfire of his sergeants (played by Peter Cummins) actions.

TRAVELLING NORTH from 1987 is outwardly a much gentler propositon that still manages to conceal a dark underbelly in its tale of an old man (Leo McKern) enjoying his retirement in Queensland with a much younger lady friend (Julia Blake). Extras feature the half hour 1980's documentary on Williamson Compulsive Playright, original screen test footage, cast profiles, and interviews.

THE FOUR MINUTE MILE is the 1988 mini-series, exciting told, of the 1950's race to break the four minute mile when Australia's John Landy was competing against Britain's Roger Bannister in what was dubbed the race of the century. It is stirring stuff. Extras on this include an introduction by Williamson, background information and cast biographies.

Overall, this is a great collection showcasing a writer who was instrumental in showing the average Australian on the screen for the first time. There will doubtless be other parts to the Williamson Collection to follow.

DVD Extras

From Stage to Screen
Original Cast Screen Tests
Cast Profiles
Compulsive Playwright – Film Australia Production
Photo Gallery
Introduction with David Williamson
Film Background and Biographies