'Every once in a while there is a special film, a film that appeals to all ages, a classic family entertainment that celebrates life and joyfully touches the heart. Storm Boy is that film.
Storm Boy lives with his recluse father on South Australia's lonely and beautiful coast. Here his free spirit roams with his pet pelican, Mr. Percival, and his secret Aboriginal friend, Fingerbone Bill. He knows no other world.
Suddenly there are intruders, the local school teacher who wants him to take lessons, a resentful wild-life ranger, duck shooters... Storm Boy, growing up is forced to choose between a life of continued isolation and the challenges of the outside world.'
This is the story of a boy. He is called Mick by his father, Tom (Peter Cummings), and Storm Boy by the Aboriginal loner Fingerbone (Gulpilil) he befriends. He is played marvellously by young Greg Rowe. This boy is growing up in an isolated corrugated iron shed next to a wildlife sanctuary. He lives with his father, who supports them by fishing alone. He is not attending school; he is illiterate and ignorant, and he doesn't know any better. But he seems content with his life, and a little less curious about the outside world than one might expect. There's a telling moment when he brings home a radio that washed up on the beach (he found it while looking for driftwood to burn). His father tells him to throw it away, because if he listens to it, he'll hear advertisements and want things he can't have.
There are intrusions on their life. A mob of idiot bird shooters kill a number of birds before they are scared off by Fingerbone (he shoots near them). Amongst the dead are some pelicans whose chicks are still in the nest. The boy brings them home to care for. His father isn't keen, but permits it. Three pelicans become a lot to feed when they reach maturity, so his father insists on releasing them. Two are never seen again, but one, Mr Percival, keeps coming back.
Another intruder is the new primary school teacher (Judy Dick), brought by the park ranger (Tony Allison) - she is concerned about his education, and pushes hard for him to be sent to school, or at least to do schoolwork by correspondence. She means well, but she is resented by the father - he doesn't want anything to change in their reclusive life.
Storm Boy is a book by Colin Thiele; if you are Australian, you have almost certainly heard of him; if you are from another country it is quite possible you have not. He's a famous Australian author. He writes literature, rather than popular fiction - I use the term literature to distinguish novels that will probably outlive their first readers. Most of his work is for younger readers, children and teenagers, but that doesn't mean adults can't enjoy reading his books. Storm Boy is one of his most popular books, and it has even survived being made part of the curriculum in a number of schools.
Greg Rowe ... Mike 'Storm Boy' Kingsley
Peter Cummins ... Tom 'Hide-Away Tom' Kingsley
David Gulpilil ... Fingerbone
Judy Dick ... Miss Walker
Tony Allison ... Ranger
Michael Moody ... Boat Master
Graham Dow ... Edwards
Eric Mack ... Jones
Frank Foster-Brown ... Lynch
Michael Caulfield ... Hunter
Paul Smith ... Hunter
Hedley Cullen ... Marina Manager
There are so few opportunities these days for children to feel connected to their natural surroundings. The magically natural setting for "Storm Boy" lifts the soul and heightens the emotional responses to the issues of growing up, connecting, letting go. This film is an absolute treasure chest of discovery for children and former children alike.
STORM BOY was a major cinema success in Australia and some other countries in the mid 70s and deserves to be an enduring hit anytime it is shown. Sensitive and heartfelt, this glorious film about a 12 year old boy and his Pelican sea bird reflects those Belgian - French - camargue films of the 60s but in a very Australian way. Filmed on the windswept desolate beaches of South Australia in full wild force of Summer Antactric winds and with a true young Actor, STORM BOY nowdays should be a staple of any family movie channel and dvd outlet. The Aboriginal teen in the film is David Gulpilil, one of Australia's most celebrated Actors, recently seen in Rolfe Heer's awesome film THE TRACKER.
* Mr Pelican was played by three different pelicans named Mr Proud, Mr Ponder and Mr Percival. These three pelicans were trained by Grant Noble for several months prior to filming in May 1976.
* The pelicans lived for a time at the swimming pool of the South Australian Film Corporation.
* In February 1976, while living at the South Australian Film Corporation's Kent Town office, actor pelican "Dum Dum" flew away and gatecrashed a nearby private party. Another time, "Dum Dum" wandered off during rush hour down Fullarton Road, Kent Town in Adelaide. A passing-by driver courageously caught the runaway actor pelican and took him to the Adelaide Zoo.
* The three "actor" pelicans were named Dum Dum, Carpenter and Sandwich. It took 12 months to train the pelicans and Dum Dum was the most adventurous pelican to wander off or escape.