Last night I finally got round to watching 'Mabo', an Australian docudrama about Koiki 'Eddie' Mabo. His name is part of Australian history because of the landmark case he, with several others, took against the Queensland government. The Australian High Court's decision in 'Mabo vs. Queensland' rejected the doctrine of 'terra nullius'. In a (very small) nutshell, this was the concept that the Europeans who settled Australia were arriving in a land that didn't belong to anyone - so the Indigenous peoples of Australia could not claim that the land was actually theirs.
The film is, first, a romance - and I love that it humanises the people involved. People whose names pass into the history books are sometimes drawn as sort of idealistic robots (weird image, but do you know what I mean? As though they're only programmed to see their cause through.) This movie shows that Mabo was a passionate and courageous person - but also a real man and, as such, flawed.
The film is beautifully shot. The image that has stuck with me since I first saw it a few months ago in Australia (at 0:56 in the trailer) shows the barristers and judge - all in their formal black robes - clambering barefoot out of a rowing boat with their trousers rolled up. Somehow it reenacts, not just Mabo's story, but more than 200 years of cultures colliding.
More on Mabo: