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Australia 1971
Directed by
Warwick Freeman
112 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars


Demonstrator was the first and only feature film for Warwick Freeman, a television director who had worked on such classic TV shows as Mavis Brampston and Bandstand. Made before the Government-funded renaissance of the 1970s it was a brave venture although by today’s standards a decidedly limited one, something which is exacerbated by the fact that the only remaining print is in very poor condition.

The story is about an ambitious politician Joe Slater (Joe James), the Australian Minister of Defence, who is seeking to form an alliance with Asia, but is thwarted by his anti-war son, Steven (Gerard Maguire). Scriptwriter Kit Denton adapted the film from an original story by Elizabeth and Don Campbell. Although it is none too clear exactly what is the nature of the sought-for alliance, this matters little as the core drama is in the father-son relationship which is quite well handled.

Made with workmanlike diligence by Freeman and his team, the film borders at times on the exploitational with a particularly cheesy sex scene but overall is more inoffensively naïve than anything else, probably its primary virtue today being quite revealing as a time capsule of life in Canberra in the early 70s when the nation's capital was little more than a few commissioned buildings in a barren and dusty landscape.




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