Dunera Boys, The

1985 | Australia, USA | color | 240 min

Language:
English

MEDIA

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Holocaust & World War II

Archive Details

Screened at JFF 1987

One of the most acclaimed Australian television mini-series ever (shown at the Jewish Film Festival in two two-hour segments). This feature film is based on the true wartime story of 2,500 Jewish refugees mistaken for Nazi spies and transported on the British ship Dunera to Australia during World War II. Interned in the remote, broiling outback, the Dunera Boys, as they were called, set up an orchestra, political parties, a university, and a cafe. The ensemble acting in the film here is superlative. Most notably, Academy Award nominee Bob Hoskins rages in "kosher cockney" as a London East End fishmonger picked up in error. A young man who is the camp's only real Nazi impersonates Marlene Dietrich in the camp cabaret. The Australians are not very good at internment camps (lacking both racism and efficiency), but their bumbling leads to tragic consequences. The pressures of camp life intensify as top-level government and army conferences are conducted with anti-Semitism and high absurdity. A work of comic genius and high seriousness, with great imagination and constant inventiveness, THE DUNERA BOYS deserves all the raves it received in Australia and England, where it was broadcast on television.

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Director
Ben Lewin
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