Review: "Stir" -- Stephen Wallace

Goldsmith, Ben (2010) Review: "Stir" -- Stephen Wallace. In Goldsmith, Ben & Lealand, Geoff (Eds.) Directory of World Cinema : Australia and New Zealand. Intellect Ltd., Bristol, pp. 136-137.

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Synopsis and review of the Australian prison film Stir (Stephen Wallace, 1980). Includes cast and credits.

Stir was written by a former prisoner, Bob Jewson, who had witnessed first hand a notorious riot at Bathurst Gaol in New South Wales in February 1974, the second serious disturbance at the prison in four years. In 1979, prisoners at Parramatta Gaol staged a peaceful sit-in to protest against the New South Wales’ government’s decision not to pursue criminal charges against prison officers for their actions during the 1974 Bathurst riot. The bashing of China Jackson and his cellmate in the first scene of Stir follows a sit-in, with the rest of the film drawing heavily on events around the 1974 Bathurst riot. The director later claimed that he wanted to call the film ‘The Riot at Bathurst Prison’, but was persuaded by nervous bureaucrats to apply the veneer of fiction. The film was retitled Stir, and set in the fictional Gatunga Gaol. Like other films in this genre, Stir draws heavily on the experiences of former prisoners and warders. The Prisoners’ Action Group played a leading role in the planning and preparation of the film, and many former inmates and guards were employed as extras. And in common with many films in this genre, Stir is concerned to humanise the plight of prisoners. Through the depiction of the routines of punishment, violence and retribution by which order in the institution is maintained, and through careful evocation of the atmosphere of fear and intimidation that prisoners (and warders) live with every day, Stir, again like other films in this genre blames the authorities and the system itself for events like those portrayed here. As producer Richard Brennan says in an interview on the 2005 DVD release of the film, “prisons create monsters”...

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ID Code: 61945
Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Australian cinema, Australian film, Prison, genre
ISBN: 9781841503738
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > CULTURAL STUDIES (200200) > Screen and Media Culture (200212)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 Intellect Ltd.
Deposited On: 20 Aug 2013 23:06
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2013 08:47

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