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Film / The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith

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The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith is a 1978 Australian film, directed by Fred Schepisi, about a half-Aboriginal half-white lad, the titular Jimmie Blacksmith. He is educated in Christian spirit by a priest and his wife and then let out in the world to find good job and marry a white girl so that his kid would be already a quarteron and, as both Jimmie himself and the priest couple think, would be much better for that.

Jimmie starts to make fences for white farmers however he is regularly mistreated and underpaid, never receiving the due wages for his work. Jimmie lives within his tribe whose members are not eager to work as opposed to him and strip him of his hard-earned money. Later, he leaves his settlement and finds a job with an abusive law enforcement officer becoming his aide. However soon after a heinous deed by that officer he quits the police service.

Then Jimmie resumes making fences and for a change starts to work on the order of the seemingly kinder master. He also marries a white girl of somewhat light morals which soon gets pregnant. However after the baby is born and it turns out that it is completely white as she was impregnated by a man whom she met before she started dating Jimmie, things take a turn for worse. Also, his three relations from the tribe including his uncle and brother arrive at the farm where Jimmie works to the great discontent of the previously benevolent farmer who was quite eager to put up with the one relatively light-skinned and industrious Aboriginal but has no use for three more idle visitors.

And then things get even worse than that.


  • Chekhov's Gunman: Lampshaded with the executioner, who is also a butcher. Jimmie and his companions are still at large, and he is several times shown in his shop talking with a customer who is very curious.
    • Zigzagged in the end in the end as the executioner never hangs anyone from the gang onscreen. In the end he is only shown looking through the peephole of the Jimmie's cell making a research of his neck. Most probably he still executes him offscreen.
  • Creator Cameo: Thomas Keneally, who wrote the novel the movie is based on, appears briefly as a cook.
  • Deadpan Snarker: One of the shop assistants in the beginning who is very anti-British and always mocks Britain to the dismay of his colleague who arrived from the UK and is loyal to that country and the Queen.
  • Farm Boy: In the first half Jimmie corresponds to the description of this trope. He is cheerful, upbeat and enthusiastic.
  • Genre Shift: Halfaway into the film it shifts into a much bloodier gear.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: A girl in the Aboriginal settlement with whom Jimmie regularly has sex. She is indeed kind to him although she talks very casually about the people he murdered.
  • Karma Houdini: For the policeman under whom Jimmie briefly serves. He not only roughs up people but also kills an Aboriginal suspected of killing of a white man.
  • The Load: Several of them for Jimmie when he is on the run.
    • First his uncle who becomes catatonic after he takes part into the killing of several females. Jimmie soon leaves him with his cousin.
    • Then the teacher taken a hostage turns into this.
    • Arguably his brother at that point too. So he quits him with teacher and leaves alone,
  • Meaningful Name: Jimmie Blacksmith has black in his name.
  • Police Brutality: The policeman who at one point, employs Jimmie as his aide, is very rude. Moreover he even kills a prisoner in his cell, strangling him while Jimmie remains in the nearby room and hears the noise. In the morning he curtly asks Jimmie to conceal the evidence. Jimmie obeys then quits.
  • Precision F-Strike: For Jimmie in his talk with the shop assistants when he says that he wants to do a "frigging" good job. The anti-Brit Deadpan Snarker doesn't take it well. He says that Brits have the copyright for the word starting with "f" as it is what they do to the choirboys. Then he asks Jimmie whether or not its acceptable for the Canadian or New Zealander natives to swear. Jimmie agrees it would not be.
  • Those Two Guys: The sons of the last master of Jimmie. They do not even participate in their father's confrontation with Jimmie in their presence which at one point takes a very menacing turn.
  • White Guilt: Invoked by the teacher taken as a hostage by Jimmie and his brother on the run. He repents about everything bad that the white settlers caused to the Aboriginals and does not think too high about the goods of civilisation Europeans brought to the continent.