Rare footage of David Gulpilil dancing, 1979

Rare footage of David Gulpilil dancing, 1979
Dr Gavin Gillman
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 exquisite home movie featuring David Gulpilil, David Bylanadii (Blanasi) on didjeridu, dancer Dick Plummer, and songman Djoli 'Jolly Lajwonga' Laiwanga was filmed in Hawaii in 1979.

The footage was shot on Super 8 film by CSIRO scientist Dr Gavin Gillman, who was spending a sabbatical at the University of Hawaii at the time. Gulpilil and his fellow performers were en route to a series of performances in Europe and performed at an Australia Day function on the lawn of the Australian Consular Residence in Honolulu on  29 January 1978. The footage was never screened publically.

The narration by Dr Gillman's wife Kay and the 'Australia Day 1979' intertitle at the beginning of the clip featuring a lei made of frangipanis sitting on a piece of paper (Gillman recalls he filmed it on their kitchen table) gives the movie a lovely homemade feel.

David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu AM was a Yolngu dancer, actor, singer, painter and storyteller from Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. His first acting role – in Nicolas Roeg's Walkabout (1970) – began a career that spanned over 50 years.

He acted in some of Australia's most iconic and successful films, including Storm Boy (Henri Safran, 1976), Crocodile Dundee (Peter Faiman, 1986), Rabbit-Proof Fence (Phillip Noyce, 2002) and Australia (Baz Luhrmann, 2008).

Interestingly,Gulpilil talks about the origin of the traditional hair belt he wears at the end of this clip from Walkabout to Hollywood (Bill Leimbach, 1982). The belt is made of human hair woven into a string and is used by tribal elders for ceremony. In the clip Gulpilil sums it up poetically: 'inside here is all my peoples, all my relations, and your relations too'.

Notes by Beth Taylor