Sunday Too Far Away
R0 - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (3rd March 2018).
The Film

"Sunday Too Far Away" (1975)

Foley (played by Jack Thompson) walks into town without any particular direction in life. His car was totaled in an accident and has nothing and no one by his side. He meets an old acquaintance King (played by Max Cullen) who is looking for eager men to help shear wool on a sheep farm nearby, and offers Foley an opportunity to make ends meet. He is joined by a group of men that range from young newbie Michael (played by Gregory Apps) and drunkard elder Garth (played by Reg Lye) to fulfill their contract out in the open rural outback where a farm of hundreds of sheep graze. With the group of about a dozen men living in the heat and working conditions less than comforting, tensions begin to dwell over the workers as well as arguments against the graziers who refuse some necessities from the workers. Will the men stick to their stance or cave in until they fulfill their instructed work?

Based slightly off the 1956 shearer's strike that lasted nine months and surged a movement in workers unionization in Australia, "Sunday Too Far Away" was much more based on realism rather than the retrospectively called "Ozploitation" works that were gaining ground in cinema. Directed by longtime television director Ken Hannam, the film was the first feature film production by South Australian Film Corporation, and took its stride further by submitting it to the Cannes Film Festival, becoming the first Australian film to play at the prestigious festival. "Sunday Too Far Away" certainly has its place in Australian cinema history, but it is a film that cannot overcome its flaws with a narrative that doesn't quite hit all the marks it should.

The mostly male dominated story has its place with authenticity in the way the film is directed like a documentary. The scenes of the process of sheep shearing is shown in detail and the actors had to learn basic shearing skills for the production. The scenes of disgust and arguments are also convincing with the tension created from the acting and the conditions the men are faced with. But when looking at how the backstory of Foley seems to be an important plotpoint as seen in the opening scenes, there isn't too much in terms of payoff. Where he came from, the car accident, the tension at the pub have a lot of weight but not enough to give substance to the rest of the story. The subplot of the owner's daughter Susie (played by Lisa Peers does not seem to take things to further direction either. With the film strictly based on the 1956 strike, the strike basically happens towards the end of the film with not much to be told of the time during the strike and bigger hardships the men had to face. Strangely once the story brings higher interest in the men's actions it is where the story is basically concluded. But the strong points in "Sunday Too Far Away" is not about what isn't shown, but what is, and that is how the testosterone filled piece is divided by basic trust and money issues which is highly relatable to anyone and the strength of the accomplished performers giving it high marks all around.

The first cut of "Sunday Too Far Away" was stated to be 150 minutes. For the Sydney Film Festival, the film was cut down to 120 minutes and premiered on June 1st 1975. The theatrical release version was cut down even further by the producers to 94 minutes. With nearly an hour of footage removed, it seems many of the subplots had been removed which may have given a bit more depth to the characters and their motivations, but we may never know as the original cut was never released and the premiere cut never reissued. Regardless of the cut down structure, the film was a major critical hit in its native country. It won multiple awards from the Australian Film Institute, with the Golden Reel Award for Best Feature Film, and an Honourable Mention for Reg Lye for supporting actor. Jack Thompson won the Hoyts Prize for Best Performance as well, but for the film "Peterson" rather. "Sunday Too Far Away" should be remembered for its historical status and importance, though one would like to hope a director's cut could one day be found or reassembled.

Note this is a region 0 PAL DVD which can play back on any DVD or Blu-ray player with PAL capability


Umbrella Entertainment presents the film in 1.75:1 with anamorphic enhancement in the PAL format. The print that the transfer was taken from has a lot of weakness. Colors are very washed out with everything looking much too brown and orange, and dark blue seeming to be a mostly non-existent color. There are specs and scratches visible at times and especially prevalent in the reel change portions. Most of the damage has been cleaned, but there should have been more done in terms of color correction. The 1.75:1 image has thin black bars on the left and right side of the frame, though the left side bar is a bit thicker so the image is not fully centered. It's not a terrible transfer, but it is a disappointing one considering the overall look.

The film is the uncut 94 minute theatrical version with a runtime of 90:56 (factoring in 4% PAL speedup).


English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
The original mono track is offered and like the picture, does have its positives and negatives. On the plus side dialogue is easy to understand and is well balanced with the music and effects. But there are scenes with hisses, crackles, and damage, especially with scenes with more image damage. Most of the time the audio is on a fairly good level.

There are no subtitles available for the feature.


"The Making of Sunday Too Far Away" featurette (23:34)
This vintage featurette explores the first film by the South Australian Film Corporation with behind the scenes footage of the production, interviews with the cast and crew, and insights into some of the difficult portions, such as the opening car crash.
in non-anamoprhic 1.33:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

Rare Photo Gallery (5:36)
This automatic slideshow features theatrical posters as well as on set photographs in black and white and in color. There is no music or narration to accompany the stills.
in anamorphic 1.78:1

Original World Premiere Programme PDF
This is a DVD-ROM feature that has scans of the original premiere pamphlet.

While it is nice that Umbrella was able to dig up these vintage materials, it is disappointing that there was nothing new to add. No interviews or commentary are included. There is not even a trailer. Below is a clip from the film, courtesy of Umbrella Entertainment:


The case incorrectly states the runtime as 86 minutes, the aspect ratio as 1.66:1 and to be region 4 only.


"Sunday Too Far Away" has its strengths in the performances, though it seems to be lacking a certain level of depth to the story itself. If the said longer version of the film could be rediscovered or reassembled, it may create a newfound opinion. Umbrella Entertainment's release has fair but disappointing video while the extras are quite informative with the vintage materials.

The Film: B- Video: C Audio: B- Extras: B- Overall: C+


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