Dark Science


This artfully composed documentary provides a chilling glimpse into the mind of a 20th-century explorer.

In 1910, a scientist called Erik Mjöberg led the first Swedish expedition to Australia. An entomologist by trade, Mjöberg's brief was to document the native wildlife, but his underlying motivation was to explore the idea that Aboriginal people were the missing link between ape and man. Landing in Derby, Western Australia, he bought supplies, hired a bullock team and set off into the Kimberley with his increasingly fractious team, battling heat and flies until they got their first glimpse of "one of the oldest races in the world - the Australian negroes".

Describing Aboriginal people as "ugly", "Neanderthal-like" and possessed of an "animalistic cunning", Mjöberg set about plundering and desecrating their grave sites and smuggling the remains back home--actions that were to have lasting consequences for all concerned.

Shot in remote regions of the Kimberley in Australia and in Stockholm and Varberg Sweden, Dark Science uses diary sources, stunning black and white footage from the expedition and excerpts from Mjöberg's novel Wings of Poison to provide a shocking glimpse into the mind of early 20th century Western man.

The remains Mjöberg took from the Kimberley were returned to Australia in 2004 by the Swedish Government, the first repatriation of human remains by a major European Museum.

I was drawn to Dark Science because I was interested in exploring the complex clash of two cultures and how one man became obsessed with another's culture to the point of no return.

— Warwick Thornton, co-director


Jack Thompson - narrator
Dan Bratt - Eric Mjöberg
Deanne Dibb - Paperbark Mother
Release dates
2008 - Australia
PG - Parental guidance
Enhance TV
David Bridie

Dark Science is co-directed by Swedish Director Johan Gabrielsson and Aboriginal filmmaker Warwick Thornton.

The film’s writer is Aboriginal playwright David Milroy.

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Cite this page

Korff, J 2022, Dark Science, <>, retrieved 14 July 2024

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