Vale Indigenous Australian Actor David Dalaithngu

Sad news from across the ditch that Indigenous Australian actor, dancer and didgeridoo player David Dalaithngu has lost his battle with lung cancer at age 68.

Warning: This story contains the name and images of a deceased Indigenous person.

Born in  approximately 1953 in Arnhem Land in the far north of Australia,  Mr Dalaithngu was raised in the traditional culture of his Yolgnu people, not encountering white people until he was about 8 or 9.  Most famous around the world for his role in Crocodile Dundee and Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, Mr Dalaithngu has been a stalwart of the Australian film industry since his film debut at 18 in the 1971 film Walkabout.

You can read more about his life in his biography, Gulpilil by Derek Rielly (eBook).

To mark his passing and celebrate his life, we’ve put together a list of his films available through our collection and/or Beamafilm and Kanopy.


Walkabout – watch on Beamafilm
“Nicolas Roeg’s mystical masterpiece chronicles the physical, spiritual, and emotional journey of a sister and brother abandoned in the harsh Australian outback. Joining an Aboriginal on his walkabout – a tribal initiation into manhood – these modern children pass from innocence into experience as they are thrust from the comforts of civilisation into the savagery of the natural world.” (Description from our Catalogue)
DVD on our catalogue or watch Walkabout on Kanopy

Mad Dog Morgan – watch on Beamafilm
“Set in gold rush-era Victoria, and based on a true story, this violent, rollicking portrayal of infamous Irish outlaw Dan Morgan, a bravura performance from an intense Dennis Hopper (Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now) is a classic of Australia’s ’70s cinema renaissance. A prospector who turns to crime and opium after failing at gold mining, Dan Morgan spends six brutal years in prison before terrorising country Victoria with a young Aboriginal, David Dalaithngu (Walkabout, The Tracker). Having escaped into NSW, the bush ranger and his accomplice easily dodge the police and mercilessly intimidate the wealthy land owners but wracked by madness and a lust to avenge an earlier attack from an irate squatter, the notorious Mad Dog makes a perilous journey back into Victoria.” (adapted from Beamafilm description)
Or, watch Mad Dog Morgan on Kanopy

Storm Boy – watch on Beamafilm (1976)
“Storm Boy lives with his recluse father on South Australia’s lonely and beautiful coast. Here his free spirit roams with his pet pelican Mr. Percival and his secret Aboriginal friend Fingerbone Bill. He knows no other world. Suddenly there are intruders, the local school teacher who wants him to take lessons, a resentful wildlife ranger, duck shooters… Storm Boy, growing up is forced to choose between a life of continued isolation and the challenges of the outside world.” (Description from our catalogue)
DVD on our Catalogue, or watch Storm Boy on Kanopy

The Last Wave – watch on Beamafilm
“Internationally acclaimed filmmaker Peter Weir explores a startling world on the brink of apocalypse in The Last Wave, a time and place where Mother Nature and human nature are destined to collide in catastrophic disaster. When lawyer David Burton is assigned a case to defend a group of indigenous Australian men, he is unprepared for the nightmares and dreamscapes ahead. Accused of murdering one of their own, the men stand trial amidst suspicious circumstances and, as Burton becomes plagued by unsettling visions, he is drawn to the mysterious Chris Lee (AFI Award winner David Dalaithngu, Storm Boy, The Tracker) for answers to his torment. As the erratic climate turns dangerous, Burton senses a greater power at play, where tribal customs and the ancient ideas of Dreamtime may be more than just an ominous warning.” (adapted from Beamafilm description)
DVD on our Catalogue or watch The Last Wave on Kanopy

Crocodile Dundee I [&] II (DVD)
“The adventures of Crocodile hunter Michael J. Dundee, in the wild outback of Australia and the wild streets of New York City.” (Catalogue description)

Rabbit-proof fence (DVD)
“In 1931, three aboriginal girls escape after being plucked from their homes to be trained as domestic staff and set off on a trek across the Outback.” (Catalogue description)

The proposition (DVD)
“A story of class, race, colonisation and of one family’s violent destiny played out against the searing backdrop of Australia in the 1880s.” (Catalogue description)

Ten canoes (DVD)
“Ten canoes tells the story of the people of the Arafura swamp, in their language, and is set a long time before the coming of the Balanda, as white people were known. Dayindi covets one of the wives of his older brother. To teach him the proper way, he is told a story from the mythical past, a story of wrong love, kidnapping, sorcery, bungling mayhem and revenge gone wrong.” (Catalogue description)
Or watch Ten Canoes on Kanopy

Australia (Blu-ray)
“In northern Australia at the beginning of World War II, an English aristocrat inherits a cattle station the size of Maryland. When English cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn stock-man to drive 2,000 head of cattle across hundreds of miles of the country’s most unforgiving land, only to still face the bombing of Darwin, Australia, by the Japanese forces that had attacked Pearl Harbor only months earlier.” (Catalogue description)

Charlie’s country (DVD)
“Blackfella Charlie is getting older, and he’s out of sorts. The Government Intervention is making life more difficult on his remote community, what with the proper policing of whitefella laws that don’t generally make much sense, and Charlie’s kin and ken seeming more interested in going along with things than doing anything about it. So Charlie takes off, to live the old way, but in so doing, sets off a chain of events in his life that has him return to his community chastened, and somewhat the wiser.” (Catalogue description)

Goldstone (DVD)
“Indigenous Detective Jay Swan arrives in the frontier town of Goldstone on a missing persons enquiry. What seems like a simple light duties investigation opens a web of crime and corruption. Jay must pull his life together and bury his differences with young local cop Josh, so together they can bring justice to Goldstone.” (Catalogue description)

Cargo (DVD)
“An ecological collapse has seen the human population take to an orbital existence aboard a fleet of intergalactic space stations. Rumour had it that a distant habitable planet exists in the outer realms and CARGO concerns the intense and atmospheric journey one crew embarks on in order to find paradise”–Container.” (Catalogue description)

Storm boy (2018) (DVD)
“A contemporary retelling of Colin Thiele’s classic Australian tale. When Michael Kingley, a successful retired businessman starts to see images from his past that he can’t explain, he’s forced to remember his childhood and how, as a boy, he rescued and raised an extraordinary orphaned pelican, Mr Percival.” (Catalogue description)

Gulpilil – One Red Blood, watch on Kanopy
“GULPILIL – ONE RED BLOOD takes us from the world of cinema to Dalaithngu’s homeland and back again. It charts his career from his origins as a strictly tribal man who spoke no English, through his transformation to a jet-setting movie star. The film traces how Dalaithngu’s acting work declined during the 80s and how he was overlooked for over a decade. With his latest roles in Rabbit Proof Fence and The Tracker, Dalaithngu is once again back in the spotlight.” (Description from Kanopy)

Note: In many Indigenous Australian cultural practices, those that have died are not referred to by their name as a mark of respect.  Mr Dalaithngu’s family have requested that he be referred to as David Dalaithngu.  We have left the title of his biographical book and film with the original name so that they can be found in the library collection.

Staff Pick Films – Kanopy & Beamafilm

A selection of Staff Picks movies and documentaries from our website’s DVD pages; these films are all now available on the library’s two online streaming platforms, Beamafilm & Kanopy.

Herb & Dorothy – Beamafilm
You cannot dislike this. Herb is a postal worker, Dorothy is a librarian in New York City and they are art collectors – very serious contemporary art collectors. Who would think that this ordinary (and not cool) looking couple owned more than 4000 pieces of art works mostly minimal or conceptual arts? Amazingly these variable works are somehow stored in their cramped one room apartment where they live with turtles, goldfish and a cat. They have no proper ‘Art’ education, but when this couple face art works, their eyes start glowing and get very serious as if they are hunting dogs. Their collection became so significant it was gifted to the national Gallery of Art (so they are not for money). It is an obsessive passion but utterly charming. Above all, this is the story of this extraordinary couple who complement each other. (Shinji)

The white ribbon – Beamafilm
‘The White Ribbon’ is another subversive jewel in the aloof crown of Michael Haneke, disturbed creator of other choice picks Hidden, The piano teacher and the nicely bleak The seventh Continent. It’s shot beautifully in black and white, the acting is unobtrusively spot-on and the narrative offers gradual hints that build real force and tension. To complete the compellingly grim picture I must list the themes that make one squirm – the destruction of innocence, the abuse of parental power, fascism in its many forms, violence and death. ‘The White Ribbon’ creeps its way into your subconscious and despite your best mental efforts, lingers. Scene by scene, I had the strong sense that I was involved in something significant. You may want to watch this film again. (Monty)

Scott Walker: 30 century man – Beamafilm
I enjoy music docos and have recently found a new stash of them at the end of the CD aisles under ‘Music Biographies’. There are some goodies there, one of which is this excellent film about Scott Walker. The penny finally dropped for me as to why he is considered by so many to be a living legend. His journey from 60’s pop icon, as one of the Walker Brothers, to reclusive avant-garde sound sculptor is explored and held together with excerpts from Walker’s first agreed to interview in thirty years. This is a peek inside the creative mind and it is fascinating to glimpse, amongst other things, the humour that accompanies the creation of such intense songwriting – that is if you happen to agree with Walker that his creations can actually be called songs. (John)

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