David Stratton's Stories of Australian Cinema, episode 3 review: a perfect example of why we need BBC Four

Australian film critic David Stratton
Australian film critic David Stratton presented this informative series Credit: BBC

The thing about BBC Four, the channel that has sunk to the bottom of the corporation’s priority list and will reportedly soon fall off it altogether, is that it gives you programmes you never knew you wanted. David Stratton’s Stories of Australian Cinema is a case in point. I had never heard of David Stratton, and never given much thought to Australian cinema. Yet after stumbling across this last of a three-part series, I now know more about both, and feel the richer for it.

Stratton is a British-born film critic and former director of the Sydney Film Festival, who hosted a movie review programme on television for 28 years – an academic Barry Norman, if you will. He loves his subject, and guided us through it with thought and expertise. What more can you ask in a presenter? He has his celebrity fans too and most of them popped up here: Nicole Kidman一本道理不卡一二三区, Sam Neill, Eric Bana, Geoffrey Rush and Russell Crowe.

This was not simply a history of Australian film, but of how Stratton had received those films over the years. A young Crowe starred in Romper Stomper, a film that Stratton refused to award a star rating on its release in 1992 because he was troubled by its extreme violence and depiction of neo-Nazis. The director, Geoffrey Wright, reacted by throwing a glass of white wine over him at a party. “And if I saw him again I’d do it again, except with a red,” he grinned.

There were films here that were unfamiliar to me – The Castle, Lantana – and which I now intend to seek out on Stratton’s recommendation. Others I have seen, and was happy to be reminded of – even the short clip here of Rabbit-Proof Fence reduced me to tears, which is partly down to the brilliance of that particular film, but also to the programme’s editing and the context it provided.

一本道理不卡一二三区Stratton is not a presenter that you could imagine appearing on the main BBC channels. He’s 80, and his confession to being a non-user of social media (while making a reference to people “Twittering”) would horrify the denizens of New Broadcasting House. This was not a flashy new show, or an original commission. But it informed, educated and entertained, and doesn’t that count for something?