My Name Is Gulpilil by Molly Reynolds [7/10]

My Name Is Gulpilil,” a slow-moving, occasionally ponderous documentary training a camera on the epochal indigeneous movie star, David Gulpilil, may well bewilder many viewers. Gulpilil, who has towered over Australian cinema for half a century, is now dying of lung cancer in a small South Australian town, and the film does not care to pass judgment or to tell a story in traditional terms. Instead, director Molly Reynolds lingers on his frame shuffling to and from the letterbox, luxuriates in his craggy face with its unforgettable eyes, and gently casts a backwards eye on past fame and controversy. Reynolds, it seems to me, concerns herself less with matters of mortality than with trying to capture the hypnotic yet unknowable (at least to a white viewer) essence of a man who seemed to conquer the modern world while yearning to remain in his ancient culture. A sad but somehow transfiguring movie, My Name Is Gulpilil is one feature every Australian should watch.

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