Judy Davis and Sam Neill in My Brilliant Career

Judy Davis as Sybylla and Sam Neill as Harry embrace. He is touching her neck and she is touching his arm. They look at each other lovingly.
Judy Davis and Sam Neill in My Brilliant Career
Margaret Fink
Access fees

'Judy Davis, is a young lioness …' observed The London Sunday Times.

In sharp contrast to Hollywood conventions, in My Brilliant Career (Gillian Armstrong, Australia, 1979) the male lead Sam Neill as Harry Beecham is the eye candy, while Judy Davis as Sybylla is the ugly duckling.

This image by David Kynoch was probably taken during an on-set portrait shoot to experiment with lighting, poses and costumes.

Here Sybylla is transformed into an elegant young woman and together with Harry she creates a portrait that conveys a message quite different from that of the film's ending.

Despite the pioneering rural backdrop, the theme of a young woman renouncing marriage for career transcends its 19th century setting.

The film is based on the novel of the same name by Miles Franklin written in 1901. Anna Senior won an AFI Award and was nominated for Best Costume Design at the Academy Awards.