Friday, November 07, 2014

The Sapphires, a film by Wayne Blair

Bonnie and I have been watching the British comedy Moone Boy on our local PBS station. One of the standout characters is Martin Moone's imaginary friend Sean Murphy, played by Chris O'Dowd. O'Dowd is also creator of the program. If you have also been watching and would like to see more of O'Dowd, try the 2012 Australian film The Sapphires, an entertaining musical look back at the 1960s.

The story line is that four talented aboriginal girls from a small town outside Melbourne form a singing group hoping for fame and fortune. O'Dowd is Dave Lovelace, the promoter who discovers them and suggests that they switch from singing country songs to Motown soul so they can tour American military bases in Vietnam in 1968. The premise may sound a little far-fetched, but the story is inspired by a true story. Of course, the film producers do not actually tell the true story, changing many of the most important details, but they do capture the sound and look of the time. (Disregard the 1970s Tupperware that appears at a sales party.)

The Sapphires is promoted as a comedy, but it has some serious content. The group is in danger in a war zone, of course, but more critical to the story are scenes in the Australian outback, where they are put down by whites as sub-human. We even see government officials taking away light-skinned children to raise as whites. Comedy and romance, however, dominate. The funniest scenes are those in which the girls learn to sing with soul under O'Dowd's direction.

My library showed The Sapphires in its film discussion series. Attendance was small but we had a great discussion. Everyone said that they were glad they came.

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