Crocodile Dreaming


Crocodile Dreaming is a film which tells a traditional Aboriginal story, similar to Ten Canoes. A stone holding the stories and songs of the ancestors has been stolen from its proper location and subsequently causes the death of two children. It must be found and brought back to restore the right order. The local Aboriginal mob cannot carry out this task alone and calls for Burrimmilla (David Gulpilil) who is an urbanised Aboriginal man working as a model (very reminiscent of Michael Jackson).

As Burrimmilla meets his brother Charlie (Tom E. Lewis) he realises that Charlie still lives the traditional way. Both brothers mistrust each other and take some time to tackle the task together. Eventually they succeed in communicating with the spirit of their mother in an impressive scene where the swamp is set on fire. They retrieve the stone from the water and bring it back to the special creation place, restoring the natural order.

Crocodile Dreaming is a very unusual film in that it uses traditional storytelling together with modern-day special effects. That Darlene Johnson's favourite genre is horror shines through in a bloody camp scene which led to the "Mature" rating. A great film with a cast of great, well-known Aboriginal actors.

Crocodile Dreaming is my mother's dreaming. It's not Crocodile Dundee, it's not Ten Canoes... It's my true story.

— David Gulpilil
Director Darlene Johnson and cinematographer Kim Batterham on location.
Director Darlene Johnson and cinematographer Kim Batterham on location shooting Crocodile Dreaming. Photo: Wentworth Courier


David Gulpilil - Burrimmilla
Jamie Gulpilil - Peter
Tom E. Lewis - Charlie
Release dates
Feb 28, 2007 - Australia (World premiere on the Adelaide Film Festival)
M - Mature
Ronin Films

The crocodile stone is a stone crocodiles keep in their belly to digest food. It represents the Dreaming and is passed on from generation to generation. The film's stone was borrowed from a stone collector and is a 20-million-year-old tectite.

The crocodiles shown in the lake scenes were 'Eric' and 'Brutus' and were tranquillised for these scenes.

With Crocodile Dreaming Darlene Johnson wanted to emphasise the spiritual, sacred and mystic side of actor David Gulpilil and the story.

Crocodile Dreaming was filmed in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory and took six years to make.

Darlene Johnson is also an actor and a writer. She lives in Bondi, Sydney.

Darlene Johnson is from the Dunghutti tribe of the east coast of New South Wales.

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Cite this page

Korff, J 2020, Crocodile Dreaming, <>, retrieved 25 July 2024

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