The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Based on a novel by Thomas Keneally, which was in turn inspired by actual events, this drama is a shocking indictment of the racism inflicted on the indigenous people of Australia. Jimmie (Tommy Lewis) is a half-white, half-aborigine young man raised by a Methodist minister. Feeling outcast among the aborigines, Jimmie moves to the city and gets a job working for a white family. When a white serving girl at the estate becomes pregnant, everyone is convinced that Jimmie is the father; to spare the girl's honor, Jimmie marries her and is allowed to live with her on the estate. But after the child is born, everyone realizes that the father was a white man, not Jimmie; he is still willing to accept the child and stand beside his wife, but his employers now feel that he married a white girl under false pretenses, and they bar him from the estate. Forbidden to see his wife and fired without receiving his pay, Jimmie finally explodes in a fury of violent revenge. Director Fred Schepisi's original cut of this film runs 122 minutes, though it was more widely distributed in a shortened version running 108 minutes. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Tommy Lewis
as Jimmie Blacksmith
Freddy Reynolds
as Mort Blacksmith
Ray Barrett
as Constable Farrell
Jack Thompson
as Rev. Neville
Peter Carroll
as McCready
Marshall Crosby
as Peter Newby
Rob Steele
as Claude Lewis
John Bowman
as Mullett
Bryan Brown
as Shearer
Ruth Cracknell
as Mrs. Heather Newby
Don Crosby
as Mr. Newby
Julie Dawson
as Martha Neville
Arthur Dignam
as Man in Butcher Shop
Steve Dodds
as Tabidgi
Jane Harders
as Mrs. Healy
Ray Meagher
as Dud Edmonds
Robyn Nevin
as Mrs. McCready
Angela Punch McGregor
as Gilda Marshall
Peter Sumner
as Dowie Stead
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Critic Reviews for The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith

All Critics (10)

There's a lot to feast on here, and not least a ferociously resonant and emotionally potent epic set under the blazing Aussie sun.

August 16, 2020 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Featuring a moving and underrated performance from the underappreciated Tommy Lewis, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith hits on a variety of troubling social injustices.

August 11, 2020 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

A richly rewarding film, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith is a not-to-be-missed treasure.

May 4, 2020 | Full Review…

When the moment of violence arrives, abruptly, at the half-way point, it does so in flurry of handheld camerawork, striking sound design and stark symbolism.

August 23, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

The movie is gorgeous pure filmmaking even when we wince at the violence - and we do, because Schepisi doesn't present it as cathartic or exciting.

August 24, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

A powerful unsettling film about racism in Australia in 1900.

June 10, 2014 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith


I've only seen this movie once, getting on for 25 years ago, late one night on BBC2, back when dedicated movie channels were in their infancy and the BBC still cared about its film programming. One of the regrettable byproducts of avid film viewing is a certain desensitisation to violence; we'll unflinchingly watch the most harrowing of scenes without being put off our popcorn. The brain-searing power of Fred Schepisi's second feature, however, has never left me, and I don't imagine it ever will. The story concerns a young Aboriginal boy, so dehumanised by white colonialism that he lashes out, commits an act of brutal savagery and goes on the run. While Schepisi certainly sympathises with his central character, I don't remember him seeking to excuse Jimmie's actions, and nobody could accuse him of pulling his punches in depicting the crime itself. A superb film. See it if you get the chance.

Stephen M
Stephen M

Super Reviewer

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