The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson hits the big screen

The long-awaited feature film The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson, hits the screens in Australia this week – and it’s incredible. As construction team for the project, ALIEN PROOF CONSTRUCTION owes its gratitude to director Leah Purcell and production designer Sam Hobbs for the opportunity to work on this seminal work.

The film adaptation of Leah Purcell’s highly acclaimed stage play, the film is s a reimagining of Henry Lawson’s classic short story The Drover’s Wife, and described as a “searing Western thriller”. Set in 1893, it centres on the heavily pregnant Molly Johnson (played by the indomitable Leah Purcell (writer, director and leading actress) and her children who struggle in isolation to survive the harsh Australian landscape after her husband leaves to go droving sheep in the high country.

Filmed in the Snowy Mountains and Western Sydney, this is Leah Purcell’s searing debut feature film. The Guardian is quoted as saying:

“Leah Purcell’s Indigenous feminist reimagining of Henry Lawson’s classic is a bullet between the eyes of a whitewashed fable”

The Guardian

And it truly is. But it is more than this, too. It centres on the powerful recognition of Molly’s cultural identity, with Leah musing on the film having its own ‘Songline’, and her spiritual force passing down the stories and cultural practice of ancient traditions.

“[The film] follows on from [Purcell’s] award-winning 2016 Belvoir Street Theatre play and subsequent 2019 novel of the same name. In rewriting Lawson’s colonial classic, Purcell was inspired by her own lived experiences and ancestral history, and she has used the original story as a basis for her own clear-eyed reimagining. In this third – cinematic – incarnation, Purcell’s supreme acting takes centre stage, the weary flickers of her facial expressions clue us into the deep anguish of Molly’s past.”

Debbie Zhou, Guardian Australia
Remote location build for The Drover’s Wife
Molly’s Cottage
Slab hut construction

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