Fred Schepisi, for his second film, reveals a sure hand, a dynamic thrust in using a true turn-of-the-century happening [from a book by Thomas Keneally] to delve into the racism of the times against aborigines and the beginnings of governmental federation of its many regions.
The tale of a mulatto aborigine, raised by a Methodist minister, and torn between his people and his Christian teachings, has sweep and interesting insights into the loss of the aborigine culture and the life of a man who does not belong to either culture anymore.
Tommy Lewis, a non-actor, is well utilized as Jimmie Blacksmith. He works for a white family who allow him to build a hut for his family. When there is no food and no pay, he and his uncle go to the house, where the men are absent. The refusal of food leads to a sudden explosion of all the smoldering resentments and they slaughter the wife, two teenage daughters, a schoolteacher living with them and a young boy.
The violence is instinctive, harrowing but not exploited. It is masterfully handled by Schepisi. Jimmie and his brother leave the old uncle and the wife and child and go on the lam as a great manhunt begins.