The Naked Bunyip (1970)

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Released 24-May-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
Featurette-A Funny Sort Of Way
Deleted Scenes
Audio-Only Track-'Let's Make Love'
Gallery-Photo
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, Don's Party
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1970
Running Time 139:00
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (86:16) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By John B. Murray
Studio
Distributor
Nat. Film & Sound
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring John B. Murray
Ray Taylor
Graeme Blundell
Barry Humphries
Harry M. Miller
Russell Morris
Malcolm Muggeridge
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This movie has been cited as the foundation stone of the resurgence of the Australian film industry during the 1970s. In an era when few local films were made, a group of people decided not only to produce a film but to distribute it themselves. Instead of a fictional work they decided on a part-documentary that explored something that would once not have been discussed in a public forum except in purely clinical terms: sexuality.

    The Naked Bunyip is a long series of interviews and documentary footage with a fictional framing device. A market research company sends 24 year old virgin Graeme (Graeme Blundell) onto the streets of Melbourne to research attitudes towards sex. Initially he goes door to door to survey the sexual attitudes of the suburban housewife. And don't you know it, the first door he knocks on opens to reveal Edna Everage, who answers his questions in a most amusing manner.

    The rest of the film features interviews with various doctors, artists' models, female impersonators, wowsers, prostitutes, politicians, single mothers, gays, lesbians and so forth giving a picture of what Australia was like in 1970, all interspersed with voice-over narration and slapstick comedy sequences by Graeme. Blundell plays this in the sort of character we later got to know from the Alvin Purple films. The movie is also notable for several of the interviewees who were perhaps less well known then than now, for example John Button and Carlotta. There's also an amusing appearance from Barry Jones, and the director of a "sexy" toothpaste commercial is none other than a young Fred Schepisi.

    In 1970 the censor held sway in a much stronger way than today, and despite intense lobbying by the director and producers the censor insisted on cuts, both to the visuals and to the soundtrack. Some were because of prurience and at least one was insisted on for legal reasons, the material being sub judice. Instead of simple cutting the material, the filmmakers cleverly decided simply to replace the offending images with drawings by Peter Russell-Clarke (later a celebrity chef) with the sound intact, or to replace the audio with bleeps and leave the vision as it was. This highlighted to audiences what was being removed, which probably led to them imagining far worse things than were actually taken out.

    While overlong, this film is entertaining not so much as an expose of the sexual underbelly of Australia, but more as a time capsule of attitudes towards sexuality, gender roles and society as they were at the dawn of the permissive society. It's fascinating to see, and this DVD package also contains some excellent extras. It's well worth seeking out.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The original was probably shot in 1.37:1, and it looks like a lot of the footage was shot in 16mm.

    The film includes both colour and black and white footage. None of it looks pristine, especially the location footage, which is quite grainy and as stated above looks like 16mm material. The transfer is quite sharp and clear, but I could not say that there was a fine level of detail. There is enough for undistracted viewing. Contrast levels are acceptable.

    The colour footage looks its age, with less than accurate flesh tones and not much in the way of vivid colour on display. Given the technical state of the Australian film industry at the time, one could not expect the highest quality and I'm sure most viewers will make the necessary allowances.

    There is some telecine wobble and occasional aliasing. The worst artefacts though are the film ones, with omnipresent white flecks, dirt and scratches. It appears that little or no attempt was made to clean the print material up. It is only slightly distracting and in fact adds to the appeal of the film.

    There are no subtitles. The disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer change disruptively positioned at 86:16.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0, which is mono of course.

    The audio is acceptable. There is some hiss and distortion, but I did not find any problems with the dialogue. Most people will be able to listen to this without distraction.

    There is a music score which seems to consist solely of a terrible song called Let's Make Love which gets repeated ad nauseam. The lyricist must have thought rhyming "wool clip" with "sheep dip" was a good idea.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The audio is music from the soundtrack.

Featurette-A Funny Sort Of Way (28:31)

    This excellent documentary revisits the genesis, production and reception of the film with director John B. Murray and producer Phillip Adams, and has recent interviews with some of the people who appeared in the film, including Blundell, Jones and Button. Nobody takes themselves too seriously yet they cogently argue for the film's place in Australian cinema history, and watching this adds a great deal to one's appreciation of the film. Most amusing is the recollection of the press conference which Barry Humphries held during the censorship dispute, where he ridiculed the chief censor, who only had one arm. Humphries said that "Prowse would give his right arm to be here with me today" and that they stood "shoulder to shoulder". Err, ahem.

Deleted Scenes (6:43)

    This sequence shows several of the scenes that the censor insisted on deleting, with some of the surrounding footage that was not cut or bleeped to give it context. A drawing of a bunyip appears on screen during the excised material. All pretty tame by today's standards.

Audio-Only Track-'Let's Make Love' (13:12)

    This is a scratchy transfer of the 45rpm vinyl record that was released with the interminable theme song, on the Bunyip label (BUN 069 was the catalogue number, of course). The first side contained audio excerpts from the soundtrack, and the second side the complete song. Both sides are played one after the other.

Gallery-Photo (1:24)

    A series of black and white production stills.

Theatrical Trailer (1:10)

    A vintage trailer for the film, made in 16mm and never used.

Trailer-Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, Don's Party (3:00)

    Trailer for other similar releases from Umbrella.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This movie is only available in Region 4 at the moment.

Summary

    Seminal (groan) Aussie documentary about sexuality, which is entertaining for many reasons even 35 years later.

    The video quality is not the best but still watchable.

    The audio quality is acceptable.

    A good range of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, July 11, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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