1986, 57 Minutes
When the Snake Bites the Sun is the third in a trilogy of films which presents a compelling account of the return by a group of dispossessed Aboriginal people to their ancient tribal grounds in the north of Australia. It follows on from the highly acclaimed and award-winning Lalai-Dreamtime (an account of an old man’s return to his ancestral land) and Floating (a heart-rending portrayal of Aboriginal culture’s collision with the arrogance of white civilisation).
Filmmaker Michael Edols had first met Sam Woolagoodja on a visit to the Mowanjum Aboriginal mission, situated 10 km south east of Derby in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, 14 years before. The spiritual custodian of his people’s past, Woolagoodja was one of the few people left who still retained ancient knowledge.
Edols kindled a deep and unusual friendship with Woolagoodja, accompanying him on a trip to his tribal homeland. They intended to return again, but Woolagoodja died in Edols’ arms just days before.
When the Snake Bites the Sun is this story. It is the story of a filmmaker returning with a group of Aboriginal people to a land where their near-obliterated traditions had their genesis. And it is a cause for hope that in a journey back to their Dreaming country, the Worora people remember and reaffirm their belonging to their mother country.
A Film Australia production. © National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Cinematographer/Director: Michael Edols
Producer: Tom Haydon
Writers: John Lind, Les McLaren (writers), Kate Grenville, Liz Watters (co-writers)
Composers: Wattie Ngudu, Sam Woolagoodja, Stephen Pilgrim, Jimmy Chi Jnr
Running Time: 57 Minutes
Classification: Exempt from classification
Curriculum Links: Aboriginal History; Social, Cultural and Visual Anthropology; English - 'Belonging'; Indigenous Studies; SOSE/HSIE - Identity, Place and Culture. Of particular relevance for NSW History Stage 4 'Aboriginal and Indigenous Peoples, Colonisation and Contact History: What has been the nature and impact of colonisation on Aboriginal, Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples?'