At an island archeological dig, Professor Bernard Thornton discovers Aboriginal artifacts in a cave. They include a bracelet that appears to belong to an Aboriginal woman, Warindji, who was murdered by whalers in 1856.
Nine months later, the bracelet is stolen by Aboriginal activists from a university museum. The girl who has the bracelet is caught by museum guards and beaten half to death. She dies in the hospital, and her attendant doctor is Cathy Thornton, who is the Professor’s daughter. Cathy discovers marks on the girl’s wrist as if she had worn the bracelet, and she has repeated visions of the whalers.
After attending her mother’s funeral and the death of the activist Najira, who had stolen the bracelet, Cathy drives to the coastline off the island where her father’s dig is. In the cave the Professor finds a harpoon that seems to have belonged to the head whaler who had murdered Warindji.
Cathy’s boyfriend Geoff follows her to the island but she finds him dead, and she is chased by her father, who is dressed as the head whaler. A battle at the top of the lighthouse has Cathy attacking the Professor with the harpoon; he falls from the lighthouse and dies.
- Arthur Dignam - Professor Bernard Thornton
Penny Cook - Cathy Thornton
Gary Sweet - Geoff
Laurence Clifford - Najira
Kristina Nehm - Warindji
Patrick Frost - Dr. Graham
John Noble - Dr. Richards
Peter Merrill - Archaeologist (as Peter Merril)
Deborah Little - Admissions Officer
Leo Taylor - Alf
Marcella Russo - young nurse
Kathy Fisher - Sister
Gary Goodwin - Policeman
Kim Hyde - Whaler
Michael Evans - Whaler
- Release dates
- 13 May 1988 - France (Cannes Film Festival)
13 January 1990 - Japan
- M - Mature
- Frank Strangio
Find a copy of "The Dreaming"
Explore more Aboriginal movies
Aboriginal movie timeline
Explore movie history with the Aboriginal film timeline.
Take the quiz: Are you an Aboriginal movie buff?