After 50 years of telling other people’s stories on screen, David Gulpilil has finally produced the story of his own incredible life.
David Gulpilil is arguably the most iconic Indigenous Australian actor in the history of Australian cinema, with a legendary screen career spanning 50 years.
He made his debut in Nicholas Roeg’s Walkabout (1971) and was quickly cast in Storm Boy (1976), Mad Dog Morgan (1976), The Last Wave (1977) and Walkabout to Hollywood (1980), before starring in the global blockbuster Crocodile Dundee (1986).
His role in Rabbit Proof Fence (2002) drew major critical acclaim, but his first lead role in a feature film didn’t come until 2002 in Rolf de Heer’s The Tracker, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival. A bond of brotherhood was forged between Gulpilil and de Heer that saw them collaborate on many projects over the next 20 years.
In what is very likely his final film, Gulpilil faces his own mortality as he battles terminal lung cancer. He talks about what it is to stare down death, and what it was to live a life such as he did—a dizzying mix of traditional Aboriginal ways and modern Hollywood excess, and everything in between. It is pure, unmediated and unvarnished David Gulpilil, finally able to say in a film exactly what he wants to say.
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