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LAST TASMANIAN, THE

Year: 1978

Classification: Exempt - Ronin Recommends: PG

Runtime: 105 min

Produced In: Australia

Directed By: Tom Haydon

Produced By: Tom Haydon

Language: English

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The Tasmanians were a distinct people, isolated from Australia and the rest of the world for 12,000 years. In 1803, British colonisation began and in 1876, Truganini died. She was the last full-blood and tribal Tasmanian Aboriginal. Within her one lifetime, a whole society and culture were removed from the face of the earth.

THE LAST TASMANIAN had an extraordinary impact upon a very wide public in the years following its cinema release in 1978. It is a deeply moving and finely crafted work which has been credited by historians for substantially altering Australian perceptions of the colonial past. This pioneering achievement in historical detective work opens with the State funeral in 1976 for the remains of Truganini who died 100 years before. She was the last full-blood Aborigine in Tasmania. The film follows the work of Dr Rhys Jones, archaeologist and anthropologist, in his search to discover and comprehend the life and death of the Tasmanian Aborigines.

The film aroused considerable controversy when it was released. Many Aboriginal people from Tasmania who are descendants of the original population objected to the film’s implication that their people had been wiped out. The controversy provoked much debate, although no-one denied the enormity of the colonialists’ assault upon the Aboriginal population of the island. Details of the controversy are included in the Study Guide which accompanies the film.

“The most ambitious and controversial Australian documentary in the past decade.” - Professor Tom O’Regan.

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