Bran Nue Dae: Film adaptation of the stage musical

Bran Nue Dae: Film adaptation of the stage musical
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
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This clip introduces Willy (Rocky McKenzie), the lead character; Rosie (Jessica Mauboy), his love interest; Lester (Dan Sultan), his romantic rival; and Willy’s mother Theresa (Ningali Lawford-Wolf).

Torn between his love for Rosie and a strong sense of responsibility to fulfil his mother’s dream of having a priest in the family, Willy struggles with his future as suave musician Lester vies for Rosie’s attention.

Notes by Liz McNiven


Additional notes on musical score

Unlike many of the other examples in this collection, Bran Nue Dae is a musical packed with numbers that are sung by the film's characters and which advance the plot.

The music here does not function subliminally or as underscore. It is the basis of the entire scene, sung and acted out in a highly choreographed and synchronised performance by the actors themselves.

These sorts of sequences suggest a place of transcendence, where time stands still and the everyday disappears in a whirl of music. But the frank sexual subject matter referenced in the lyrics also speaks directly to the love triangle unfolding between Rosie, Willy (who's too shy to express his feelings) and the older and more confident Lester.

The music assists in shaking up their dynamic and suggesting thoughts and intentions that might not yet be spoken through dialogue.

As is typical of film musicals, Bran Nue Dae is adapted from an earlier stage work. The original script and music was written by Jimmy Chi in 1990.

The film version, directed by Rachel Perkins, stars famous Australian singers like Jessica Mauboy, Missy Higgins and Dan Sultan, all of whom perform Chi's original songs.

Notes by Johnny Milner