1990, 71 Minutes
The story of Bill Neidjie, the traditional custodian of the lands that are now Kakadu National Park.
At the top end of Australia is the jewel of the country’s national parks and the home of the Gagadju people. It is called Kakadu. More than 100,000 visitors are drawn to this magical place every year. Some come to look at its beauty but others come to hunt its animals and dig up its minerals.
Bill Neidjie is a traditional custodian of this land - a role passed down to him through countless generations. In 1979 he gave the land to the people of Australia. Kakadu Man is his story. A story that concerns how strangers to his ancient land wanted to tame and use it. Translated through the use of actors and puppet characters, and scenes of Kakadu, the story unfolds into a sensitive and often humorous portrait, weaving together the figurative and the abstract, the past and the present. Scenes of Kakadu National Park’s birds and animals, gorges, rivers, billabongs and the people who live there are combined with scenes about the way the puppets are created and the way they tell the stories of sacred Aboriginal spirits.
The message of this important documentary is of vital concern to people everywhere. It is the message of the great Mother spirit: “The earth she sick from mad mankind. Read the land, listen to it. Only then will you be free.”
A Film Australia National Interest Program. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Director: Michael Balson
Composer: Michael Atherton
Narrator: Ruth Cracknell
Featured People: Based on the story ‘Australia’s Kakadu Man’ by Bill Neidjie, Stephen Davis and Allan Fox. Puppet play written and directed by Vivien Walker. Bill Gagudju is played in the Marionette Theatre of Australia by Michael Johnson and the words of Bill Neidjie are spoken by David Kennedy
Running Time: 52 Minutes
Classification: Exempt from classification
Curriculum Links: Indigenous Studies, Beliefs and Values; Religion, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Visual and Performing Arts; Conservation & Land Management; Environmental Studies.