Movies

Dhakiyarr vs the King

Synopsis

Seventy years after the controversial murder trial of the great Yolngu leader Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda and his subsequent disappearance, his family is still searching for answers. Dhakiyarr's body has still not been found and laid to rest. His descendants know that justice was not served and want to restore what was denied to him; his honour. Dhakiyarr vs The King is their story, told in their own words. It is also the story of a clash of cultures and of one man bravely facing the unknown.

In 1933, on Woodah Island in remote northeast Arnhem Land, Dhakiyarr speared to death a policeman, Constable Albert McColl who had chained up his (Dhakiyarr's) wife. To Dhakiyarr, the action was lawful on his land. On the advice of missionaries, he went to Darwin to explain his actions and his people's ways to the Northern Territory Supreme Court.

He was found guilty of murder in a trial where conditions and justice were grossly stacked against him and was sentenced to hang. However, the sentence was overturned by the High Court and Dhakiyarr was freed. But he disappeared the day he was released and his family have never discovered what happened to him. This documentary journeys with the Yolngu as they re-trace his footsteps and as master storytellers, they relate it in their own natural way directly to camera.

In their journey, the Yolngu come face to face with the authorities who let Dhakiyarr down and with the descendants of Constable McColl. It is an inspiring story of remembrance and healing of two laws, two cultures and two families coming to terms with the past.

The family of the great Yolngu leader Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda is searching for answers. Seventy years after his controversial murder trial and subsequent disappearance, Dhakiyarr's body has still not been found. His descendants know that justice was not served. They want to restore what was denied to him: his honour. This is their story, told in their own words - of two laws, two cultures and two families coming to terms with the past.

Details

Cast
Ted Egan
Djambawa Marawili
Wakuthi Marawilli
Gawaratj Munungurr
Waka Munungurra
Dhukal Wirrpanda
Mulkun Wirrpanda
Wuyal Wirrpanda
Galawarriwuy Wunnungmurra
Awards
Winner, Audiovisual History prize, NSW Premier's History Awards 2004
Rating
PG - Parental guidance
Soundtrack
Alister Spence

Watch now

Find "Dhakiyarr vs the King" on DVD or BluRay

Browse Aboriginal film suppliers and distributors

Other films by Tom Murray & Allan Collins ACS

Explore more Aboriginal movies

Explore movie history with the Aboriginal film timeline.

Take the quiz: Are you an Aboriginal movie buff?

Harvard citation

Korff, J 2018, Dhakiyarr vs the King, <https://www.creativespirits.info/resources/movies/dhakiyarr-vs-the-king>, retrieved 19 October 2019

Knowledge is better when your friends know too.
Whom can you help today?

"Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality." — Dalai Lama

Join more than 14,564 Smart Owls who know more!