Story

Bran Nue Dae is set in Broome in the late 1960s. It tells the story of Willie (Rocky McKenzie), a young man who’s almost grown up. He spends his days happily fishing and hanging out with his friends and his girl, Rosie (Jessica Mauboy). Willie’s mother, Theresa (Ningali Lawford-Wolf), has other ideas about Willie’s future – she wants Willie to pursue a religious path. So she sends him off for another year of schooling on a religious mission in Perth.

Willie is a prefect at the mission, and Father Benedictus (Geoffrey Rush) has taken Willie under his wing. Willie does something rebellious to protect his friends, and Father Benedictus punishes him. Willie runs away from the orphanage, determined to make his way back home to Broome and Rosie.

On Willie’s trip home, he meets Uncle Tadpole (Ernie Dingo), who knows Willie’s mother. Willie convinces Uncle Tadpole to help him get home. So Uncle Tadpole in turn convinces a couple of unsuspecting hippies, Annie (Missy Higgins) and Slippery (Tom Budge), to take them ‘just up the road’ to Broome. A hilarious 2500-km journey through the beautiful landscape of Western Australia follows. Colourful characters played by Deborah Mailman and Magda Szubanski add to the chaos.

Themes

Alcohol dependence; racism; children as victims; homelessness

Violence

This movie contains some violence. For example:

  • Father Benedictus hits Willie with a paddle.
  • Father Benedictus hits Tommy on the head.
  • A shop owner shoots at Willie and Uncle Tadpole with a rifle after they steal from her shop.
  • Uncle Tadpole kills a snake by smacking it repeatedly against a tree.
  • Roxanne’s partner attacks Willie after he finds Roxanne and Willie in a compromising position.
  • Uncle Tadpole beats up Roxanne’s partner after he finds him hitting Willie.
  • Willie is kicked in the stomach as he is placed in jail.
  • Willie has a dream where he sees Indigenous people captured and in chains.
  • Willie and Lester get into a fist fight and both fall to the ground.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie contains some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:

  • Uncle Tadpole pretends to be hit by a car so that he can get a lift to Broome.
  • Willie’s mother sends him away to the mission. Willie doesn’t want to be there. Father Benedictus and the other priests maintain strict discipline at the mission, which distresses and frightens the children.
  • At the mission, one of the younger boys must hold two bibles with outstretched hands as a punishment. He is visibly upset. When he drops the books, he has to start again.
  • Boys go spear-fishing and are seen killing a fish.
  • Willie runs away from the mission after he stands up to Father Benedictus. He approaches a group of homeless men who have been drinking, telling them that he wants to go home.

From 8-13

Children in this age group could also be upset by scenes of children in distress in the mission.

Over 13

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.

Sexual references

This movie contains some sexual references. For example:

  • Lester makes flirtatious remarks to Rosie outside the pub.
  • There is some provocative dancing during the dance scene at the pub.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

This movie contains some use of substances. For example:

  • Lester comes out of the pub. His behaviour suggests that he has been drinking.
  • People are seen drinking in the pub as Rosie sings with Lester and the band.
  • Willie approaches a group of homeless men who are sleeping under a bridge. The group are all openly drinking from wine bottles and are obviously drunk.
  • Willie meets Roxanne, who is obviously drunk. She is stumbling and being provocative.
  • Uncle Tadpole, Annie and Slippery smoke marijuana and are obviously affected by it. Annie throws the marijuana out of the window of their van after they see the police.
  • Roxanne drinks out of a beer bottle. 

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie contains some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • Willie and Rosie kiss.
  • Willie has a sexy dream about Rosie. She is in sexy clothing, inviting him to come to her.
  • Annie and Slippery are seen in their underwear when they go swimming in a water hole. They kiss.
  • Father Benedictus pulls down his pants and squats so that he can do a poo beside the road.
  • Roxanne takes Willie to the condom tree. This is a tree where the branches all have condoms hanging from them. She encourages him to have sex with her. She is on top of him (clothed) when Roxanne’s partner finds them.
  • A shop owner rubs her breasts in front of Willie and propositions him.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie: Cherry Ripe and Coca Cola.

Coarse language

This movie contains some mild coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Bran Nue Dae is a joyful musical comedy about a young man’s journey home and his coming of age. The movie’s main message is that home is where the heart is.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include friendship, determination and looking out for your friends and family.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as Indigenous Australians and their history. Excessive alcohol use is also an issue in the movie.