Samson & Delilah (2009)

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Released 25-Nov-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of-Making Samson & Delilah by Beck Cole
Interviews-Crew-At The Movies interview with Warwick Thornton
Interviews-Crew-Sunday Arts interview with Warwick Thornton
Short Film-Nana
Short Film-Green Bush
Short Film-Mimi
Short Film-Payback
Theatrical Trailer-Samson & Delilah
Teaser Trailer-Madman Propaganda
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 96:42 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Warwick Thornton
Footprint Films
Madman Entertainment
Starring Rowan McNamara
Marissa Gibson
Mitjili Napanangka Gibson
Scott Thornton
Matthew Gibson
Steven Brown
Gregwyn Gibson
Noreen Robertson Nampijinpa
Kenrick Martin
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI $39.95 Music Warwick Thornton

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    With four excellent short films to his name and numerous cinematography credits, it's been a patient journey for Australian filmmaker, Warwick Thornton. Earlier this year finally saw the release of his long awaited debut feature film, Samson & Delilah.

    The idea and concept for the film had been with Thornton for quite sometime. Most of the story is based on his experiences and observations, while living in Alice Springs as a teenager. The story also highlights the many "hidden" issues of Indigenous Australia - this is the side that isn't on display for the tourists.

   Warwick Thornton's style of filmmaking is fresh and audacious. He wrote, directed and shot the film, resisting convention by telling the story with minimal dialogue. This in turn, placed great responsibility at the feet of the actors. They needed to carry the narrative mostly through expression and small gestures - quite a task even for seasoned performers.

    The casting of Samson & Delilah was a brave, but calculated commitment. Casting the two lead roles with first-time, non-actors could have killed the film from the outset. Instead, these two young actors deliver assured performances - this is also testament to Thornton's intelligent direction. Because the lead actors had no formal training, Thornton was able to capitalise on their innocence and honesty. It would be criminal of me not to mention the performances of the two other key players in the film. Mitjili Napanangka Gibson lights up the screen as Nana and Scott Thornton (Warwick's older brother) gives a superb performance as the good natured, Gonzo.

     Set in central Australia, within a small remote Aboriginal community, Samson & Delilah opens with a scene of poignant irony. Fourteen-year-old, Samson (Rowan McNamara) wakes on a thin foam mattress. Charley Pride's, Sunshiny Day plays as Samson sits up and deeply inhales petrol fumes from a battered old tin can. In slow motion, he mimes drum beats while holding the can close to his face - Samson's daily routine has begun. This is his escape from the constant boredom of life. Samson's lonely existence is also a silent one, as he never talks. The reason for this is revealed later in the film.

    Samson steps out onto the veranda of the rundown house, where two guitars and a small drum kit are permanently set up. His brother (Matthew Gibson) and two friends prepare for another day, playing the same repetitious piece of reggae music.

    Meanwhile down the road, Delilah (Marissa Gibson) administers daily medication to her grandmother, Nana, (Mitjili Napanangka Gibson). Delilah spends most of her time caring for Nana and helping with her traditional artwork. Nana trades her paintings to the local store owner (played by assistant producer, Peter Bartlett) in return for a meagre supply of goods. Delilah later discovers just how badly Nana has been exploited by the store owner and the local art dealers in town.

    Samson follows Delilah home from the store and takes a position sitting on her front fence. The game of attraction is played out from a distance and although there is no verbal communication between the pair, there seems a clear understanding. This becomes a source of great amusement for Nana, as she teases Delilah about her "new husband".

    Fate eventually brings Samson and Delilah closer and they leave the small community for Alice Springs. Here they meet a kind-hearted alcoholic, Gonzo (Scott Thornton), sharing his food and shelter under a road bridge. However, living in town has many pitfalls and temptations, especially when surviving on no money or resources.

    Heartbreak and tragedy is always present on the streets. Samson and Delilah become increasingly aimless and emotionally isolated. But when Gonzo takes a positive step towards self preservation, Delilah also decides to turn the tide on their inevitable destiny.

    In May this year, Warwick Thornton deservedly picked up the coveted, Caméra d'Or at Cannes and currently (November 2009) Samson & Delilah is featuring prominently at every film award ceremony in the country. The film has 11 nominations at this years AFI Awards (Australian Film Institute) and will be Australia's official submission in the Foreign Language category at the 82nd Academy Awards in 2010.

    Samson & Delilah is a haunting and emotional film experience that offers hope from utter desolation. It is a stunning debut feature from a very talented filmmaker.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    Samson & Delilah is presented in the correct aspect ratio of 1.85:1, which is 16x9 enhanced.

    I'll cut to the chase; this is a stunning DVD transfer - one of the best I've seen for some time. Madman have certainly done this film a great justice. There's little doubt that this would be the best possible result on the DVD format. To single out any issue here, would be extremely pedantic. Sharpness and clarity was clean and consistent throughout. Blacks were bold and free from any noise issues. Shadow detail was outstanding. I was waiting for a slip-up somewhere, but it just didn't happen.

    Warwick Thornton captured the colours and feel of Australia's red centre so incredibly well in this film. The transfer supports his beautiful compositions with perfectly balanced and natural colour.

    There were no MPEG artefacts evident in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts and film artefacts were non-existent.

    Samson & Delilah features white English subtitles, which seem to be the same as the theatrical print. These subtitles are easily legible and are non-removable.

    Both discs are DVD 9, dual layer discs. The layer change on disc one (film disc) is perfectly placed during a "fade to black" at 78:29 and wasn't at all noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


   There are two audio tracks available on the DVD, Warlpiri-English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) and Walpiri-English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

    While I can't particularly comment on the indigenous dialogue, I can confirm that the English dialogue was clear and concise.

    There were no obvious problems with audio sync.

    Although there is no direct on-screen credit, the original music in the film was written by none other than, Warwick Thorton. Warwick also selected every  piece of non-original music used in the film. Music Supervisor, Kim Green worked with Producer, Kath Shelper securing the music of various artists, including Charley Pride, Ana Gabriel and Troy Casser-Daley. Each piece of music is used with real purpose and was especially selected during the writing process.

    Samson & Delilah isn't the type of film to gain much from a 5.1 audio mix. Apart from ambient sound, I didn't really notice much in the way of direct sound placement. That is in no way a criticism of the audio mix, it's simply the nature of the film.

    Likewise, the subwoofer usage was very subtle.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



The main menu is animated with a subtle sunrise and sunset theme. The menu is also 16x9 enhanced and features a sample of the reggae music from the film.

Extras Disc One:

Interview with Warwick Thornton from ABC1's At The Movies (5:02)

    Margaret Pomeranz from the ABC program, At The Movies talks to Warwick Thornton about the film. This interview has been taken directly from the program.

Interview with Warwick Thornton from ABC1's Sunday Arts (13:45)

     Fenella Kernebone from the Sunday Arts program talks to Warwick Thornton. This is similar to the above piece, although this interview is longer and subsequently, more comprehensive. Short clips from the film have also been incorporated into the segment.

Original Theatrical Trailer - Samson & Delilah (2:03 )

Madman Propaganda

  • Last Ride (1:57)
  • Balibo (2:32)
  • Wake In Fright (0:41)
  • My Year Without Sex (2:08)

    Disc Two Extras:

    Featurette - Making Samson & Delilah by Beck Cole (55:06)

    As a coincidence, this fascinating documentary screened on ABC1 the same night that I watched it on DVD as part of my review. Made by Beck Cole, (Warwick's wife) this is a comprehensive and very candid look at the making of Samson & Delilah . This documentary covers the casting, filming and eventually the accolades at this years Cannes Film Festival. Beck's camera captures the highs and lows of the production, including the occasional difficulties working with young and old actors. Essential viewing.

    The Short Films of Warwick Thornton...

    Short Film - Nana (5:49)

    This charming little 2007 film is somewhat of a prequel to the story of Delilah. It features another wonderful performance from Mitjili Napanangka Gibson.

    Short Film - Green Bush (26:04)

    Made in 2005, Green Bush tells the story of an Aboriginal community radio station in the outback. In particular, it's the story of a "dusk til dawn" program called The Green Bush Show. What begins as a quite night in the studio for Kenny, (David Page) slowly turns to absolute chaos - in an amusing way.

    Short Film - Mimi (14:38)

    Boasting the well known cast of, Sophie Lee, Aaron Pedersen and David Gulpilil, this 2002 film is hilarious. I first saw this film a couple of years ago on the SBS program, Eat Carpet and have never forgotten it. Catherine (Sophie Lee) buys a Mimi (Aboriginal artwork) at an action house. But when she gets it home to her plush city apartment, the Mimi comes alive.

    Short Film - Payback (10:18)

    This 1996, black & white film tells the tale of a man about to be released from prison. Just prior to his release, he is visited by a ghost and warned about the imminent payback.

    Madman Propaganda

  • Romulus My Father (2:03)
  • Ten Canoes (2:05)
  • Noise (2:15)
  • Candy (1:50)

    R4 vs R1

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

        At the time of writing this review, there is no R1 edition of Samson & Delilah available.


        Warwick Thornton's brilliant debut feature, Samson & Delilah is presented by Madman Entertainment in a stunning two-disc set - buy it now.

        The video transfer is one of the best I've seen on DVD for sometime.

        The audio transfer is also hard to fault.

        The section of extras is comprehensive, interesting and makes essential viewing.

  • Ratings (out of 5)


    © Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
    Friday, December 04, 2009
    Review Equipment
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    DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
    Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
    AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
    SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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