Gentle and moving farewell for Australian icon

David Gulpilil in My Name is Gulpilil (Supplied)

As an actor, dancer and performer, David Gulpilil has been an Australian icon for 50 years. Diagnosed with cancer in 2017, My Name is Gulpilil is his story. Source: Jesuit Media.

This year sees the 50th anniversary of Gulpilil's film debut in Nicholas Roeg’s celebrated film, Walkabout. Just as he was 50 years ago, Gulpilil is still a demanding screen presence. He knows where to look, when to look away and when to capture a moment.

Australian and international audiences will be grateful for this opportunity to be reacquainted – to get to know him again, or to discover how significant and iconic he has been for the Australians film industry.

Director Molly Reynolds has worked with Gulpilil and with her partner, director Rolf de Heer, for more than 20 years. She has been filming interviews with Gulpilil for several years – when his cancer was diagnosed and it was thought he would not have long to live, when the treatment enabled some improvement with his health, and when he was more active.

But, all the time, Gulpilil is talking to camera, reminiscing, celebrating his successes, and confessing to his failures including his time in a Darwin prison and admissions of family violence and substance abuse.

This documentary doesn’t do a year-by-year biography or analysis of his career. Rather, this is Gulpilil remembering, reminiscing, both good and bad times.

David Gulpilil has gone much more gently into his old age and his illness, living in Murray Bridge, South Australia, looked after by a jovial white mother-figure-carer, Mary Reefed.

The film documents their quiet daily activities and just taking it easier as he moves towards death, which he acknowledges, as well taking this opportunity (as he reminds us often) that this is his film.

Reviewed by Fr Peter Malone MSC, Jesuit Media

My name is Gulpilil: Starring David Gulpilil. Directed by Molly Reynolds. 101 minutes. Rated M (Mature themes, violence and coarse language)

FULL REVIEW (Jesuit Media via Australian Catholics)

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