Sunday Too Far Away (1975) Poster

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Excellent !
Nua9 December 2002
A delightful Australian film produced in the 1970's that captures the true essence of the Australian character and Australian bush in the 1950's. This is an unashamedly "male" film that results in the cry "Ducks on the Pond" when female's venture into their domain.

Sunday Too Far Away is almost a documentary of one 1955 shearing run in outback South Australia. Minor events like the coming and going of the first Chef become immensely interesting when viewed through the lives of these characters.

If you are interested in Australian film, this one is not to be missed.
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Outback Realistic Comedy
Id-318 June 2000
The first time I saw this film was in my capacity as a projectionist on board a Royal Naval Warship. By the end of the first reel the dining hall (Cinema) was deserted except for myself and one other everyone having been put off by the lack of action. Because there was one remaining viewer I was obliged to show the entire movie. We were richly rewarded because this film is full of finely crafted observation well portrayed by fine actors expertly directed. A rich vein of understated comedy runs just beneath the surface occasionally erupting most notably in the hand laundry scene and again in the undertaker scene. Altogether a worthy film which should have received greater acclaim
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Another Hidden Aussie Gem
Sonatine975 July 2001
Sunday Too Far Away (STFA) is one of those movies that all but disappeared on its initial release in the UK during the late 70s in spite of the late resurgence of Aussie films at that time which included Picnic At Hanging Rock.

STFA is hard, tough & grim movie, set on a sheep shearing farming community in the Australian Outback. The little town is dependant on sheep to keep their bleak economy ticking over but when for the men who have to spend 9 or 10 hours a day in back-breaking conditions shearing the sheep life is tough and the money relatively poor.

So when the leader of the shearing gang, Foley (a truly brilliant performance by the much underrated Jack Thomson) demands a pay increase for his team the owners try to bring in scab labour from out of town, which only causes friction amongst the shearing crews, the owners and the townspeople.

So that's the story, but what is so marvellous about the film is the conditions the men have to work in; that they have to compete with each other with scoreboards kept on display so that rivals can see who has shorn how many sheep per day. Foley is the Sheep King but he has to fight to retain the crown with up & coming farmers ready to take it from him.

And then once their work is finished there's very little left for them to do apart from drinking beer in the bar or sitting out in the shade swatting flies and talking about women or a better life.

It truly is a bleak suffocating film, especially with the hot sun & the stifling heat the men work under. Just watching the movie made me feel clammy & tense. And yet the movie is excellent on all levels, not only with the routine storyline, but also with the characters and the cinematography.

Director, Ken Hannam, does a superb job moving the film the along at either a very lethargic pace (to suit the mood & feel at the time) or he steps up a gear when the men are at their work shearing the bemused sheep.

With this kind of simple storyline you'd be forgiven for thinking it could ever be interesting. But think again because this is the old Australia where life was tough in the Outback.

I recommend it highly.

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A truely great film
martin-dumont10 January 2003
This film is what real cinema should be. A great script, great direction, great photography and great acting. Although the story is simple the character studies from the superb cast keep you glued to the screen.

I recently put this in a competition for a personal top 10 movies of all time. I also included that other Aussie masterpiece "Newsfront".
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A film that shows it as it was
Blinky-219 October 1998
One of the few Australian movies that shows the outback and the men who worked there as they really were, without trying to romanticise and play down the brutality of the place and time. Great performance by Jack Thompson as the ageing gun shearer.
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One of Austalia's best films
MDumont23 November 2005
This movie would definitely make my personal top ten. Along with "The Odd Angry Shot", "The Club", and "Newsfront" this is one of the highlights of that golden age of Aussie movies made in the mid 70s to the mid 80's.

Jack Thompson is magnificent as the chief shearer (I think the technical term is "Ringer") of an itinerant gang of shearers who arrive at sheep station to work. The wonderful photography captures the heat and dust of the landscape as well as the harsh living and working conditions.

The main dramatic event in the movie centres around a strike by the shearers and the owners attempts to break it using scab labour. In this aspect it gives a nod to the political agenda portrayed in "Newsfront". There are some great character roles by minor players, the sub plot involving the awful cook is a little gem. Which pretty much sums up the film, not a major epic or Hollywood rubbish, just a good honest well made movie that bears repeated viewing.
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Badly Needs A Director's Cut
halliwellmedia14 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This 1970s look at the plight of shearers in the Australian outback of the 1950s was lucky, indeed, to do good box-office and win a couple of AFI film awards. It's a simple tale of Foley, a gun shearer, who looks ahead at his future and dislikes what he sees. What ended up on-screen is of an acceptable quality. Thompson's acting is good, for the period of his career. (Although he should never have sung the opening credit song.) He's well supported by a gang of other Australian actors, some of whom would also go on to wide acclaim, like the uncredited John Hargreaves. Sadly, this film was 'finished off' by one of the producers, Gil Brealey, who shuffled many scenes around and took out one vital sequence that has Foley explaining his fears (therefore his character's motivations) about his future as a shearer. What ends up on screen is a succession of set-pieces, just like that other Australian film 'The Odd Angry Shot'. Both are way too fragmented and their narratives are all over the place. The big deal over who is going to be the 'Ringer' in the shed, is never shown. If ever a film needed a 'Director's Cut' then this is it. Had the producer left the edit alone this good Australian film could have been an absolute classic of its genre and period.
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fine film
billinghamallan8 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
As somebody who worked with Australian sheep shearers in 1969 as a "pommie tar boy" in Queenbeyan ACT i can say from experience that this film is so close to life it's unbelievable. The characters in the film could have come straight out of my personal memory bank drinking and gambling on Friday and Saturday night and flat broke on Sunday ready to start work all over again on a Monday.Only to finish a shed with the same amount of money they started with none. As in the film the station owner come"cockie" treats you with contempt like the scum he thinks you are.But one thing the film puts across well is the Australian "mate ship".
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Authentic and entertaining ...
filmbufferx14 January 2018
There's a slow moving shot halfway through SUNDAY TOO FAR AWAY taken from inside the shearing shed looking through a window out into the yard. The camera pans across the yard before pulling back into the shearing shed, rising as it continues panning across the shed interior, following the action before settling on a particular character. It's a beautiful shot and a lovely example of the stunning cinematography that gives the film a palpability in which you can really feel the heat, dust and flies.

I watched the film for the first time this evening and was blown away by its lyricism, claustrophobia and grandeur. I grew up on a dairy and sheep farm in 1970s Northern Victoria when the kind of hard working, hard talking, hard drinking labourers who travel where the work is was still very much a cultural tradition in country Australia. The people in this film display an authenticity, brashness, sense of humour, bravado, timidity and mateship that is readily recognisable. It all feels genuine. It's no wonder the film was so readily embraced by Australians on its initial release.

Aspects of the film also reminded me of Tim Burstall's 1979 film, LAST OF THE KNUCKLEMEN in its exploration of class in a tough homosocial workplace culture. There's also a humorous bum-wiggling scene that reminded me of a shot from another Jack Thompson film, THE SUM OF US (Burton 1994) in which he is vigorously stirring a saucepan over a stove. I would not be surprised to learn that the shot in THE SUM OF US is a homage to SUNDAY TOO FAR AWAY.
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Authenticity - Well Bugger Me
campbell-russell-a7 April 2013
I am glad that I can sometimes revisit Australia as it once was through films like "Sunday Too Far Away" and "Newsfront". At the time of their making, we still had the faces and voices that rang true to the 50's - 60's prior to the influence of television that forever changed the way we talk and even the way we walk. Jack Thompson and the rest of the male cast moved in the way Australian men and, in particular, shearers moved. Compare this with the cast of "Kokoda". As my mother commented, Australian men of the 1940's just didn't look so muscular or move with such rigidity. They were a Depression generation - wiry with a casual slouch born of being raised on lean rabbits and fish and hardships that knocked pretentiousness sideways.

However, "Sunday Too Far Away" is far more than a sentimental journey. It is a view of life that is at once tragic and humorous. It also has genuinely touching moments when seemingly hard and practical men display their concern for each other in an understated manner that is indicative of their rejection of overt displays of sentimentality. They all know that they are probably going to end up like old Garth if they remain shearers. "That's shearing for you, Foley" says Garth as he muses about the fact that he has hardly seen his wife and son for over 30 years. Garth's death is symbolic for all the shearers and their indignation at the undertaker not providing "the proper vehicle" to bear his body on his final journey reflects their insistence upon their dignity as shearers. As in the strike action, "it wasn't so much about the money as the bloody insult."

But I intellectualize too much. I love this film for many reasons but most of all because it could have been made for people like me in mind. It is about yarns that my uncles told and characters who were like my father who had been a "rousie" on a shearing floor after leaving school at the end of year eight even though he had been the dux! Times were such that work was valued above all else - life was work.

In the 1980's, I once rented a farmhouse when I taught in rural Australia. One of the conditions of my tenancy was that shearers would share the house in the shearing season. These shearers were tough, smelled of lanolin no matter how they washed and ate mountains of food all cooked up in a giant iron skillet. And they argued about everything - who was a gun and who was not, which cocky had treated them the worst, which type of sheep were the easiest to shear. However, when I asked them about the authenticity of "Sunday Too Far Away", they always agreed that it was the best evocation of the life of a shearer they had ever seen - praise indeed for the film.(Not that they would have used the word "evocation")
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Best Aussie movie ever made
Warren & Christine23 January 2000
I've seen this 30 times! Great script, cast and photography. This is what Oz filmmaking was about -- Aussie flicks for Aussies. Our history, our culture, our actors, our funding and our own psyche. This movie personifies everything that my great country once was: Work Hard; Play Hard and She'll be Right Mate!
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Fair go mate.
edgeofreality17 February 2020
Here's a film that feels like it doesn't have a single false note. From the famous opening scene when the hero falls asleep at the wheel and the car rolls over, to his laugh at the end when he realises he's been beaten, this film says just about everything there is to say about shearing - the job that is the main focus here. Now, a film about shearers in the Australian outback may not be everyone's idea of pleasant viewing, but it is much more than that: the shearer's work starts to resemble any job that slowly eats away at the life of the person doing it, even if that person still feels pride in his work. Great moments of humour - e.g. characters like tim and the cocky, pathos (old Garth, and mystery, like the girl interested to watch the shearers, or the cook with a drinking habit and violent streak. The song the films starts and ends with is great too, with suitably melancholic lyrics:

The roads I didn't take I bid them all so long While Sunday warms my blood and cools my mind And the dreams I thought were true Are now moss beneath my footprints
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Matter-of-fact drama
Leofwine_draca4 July 2018
Warning: Spoilers
SUNDAY TOO FAR AWAY is a matter-of-fact drama from Australia, that is perhaps one of the most Australian-feeling films I've watched. The good old boy Jack Thompson plays a sheep shearer who organises a number of his fellow workers into a strike at the conditions imposed upon them by wealthy landowners; a stand-off ensues. This is a film that manages to cram in many of the cliches of Australian cinema, from rugged bar-room brawling to sun-belted landscapes, without making them seem tired. Thompson and his fellow actors give naturalistic performances throughout, and the film's realism is undoubtedly high. The story isn't quite the most exciting or compelling out there, but it does the job.
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A Slice of History
mas36-653-3902724 January 2018
A great movie reflecting the the lead up to the Shearer's strike of 1955. Jack Thompson leads a group of shearers ( not sheep hearders) and shows life on an outback station just before the 9 month long strike when the "prosperity bonus" was cancelled and shearers pay was cut.

A great movie, made for Australians, showing how Australia was once. Highly recommended
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Quality movie
b-grimmer954 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
To me, this movie is an Aussie classic and I really enjoyed watching it,

This movie gives us a very good indication on how they used to work/ live back in those times and that the pay wasn't all that great.

Not only is this movie about how they worked but it's also demonstrates how they lived, which is a lot different now a days.

But as each movie does this movie has its share of sadness which could bring a tear to your eye.

I encourage everyone to give this movie a watch as I think it is a very funny and enjoyable Aussie film.
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Good Movie
lieschker14 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Good, old, classic Australian movie, with great Australian actors who portrayed the classic Aussie shearer. The story was good and had a few comedy moments. The movie showed what the shearer's have to do with the job and what they have to deal with,such as annoying cocky's and terrible chefs. This movie allows us to see the lives of the shearer's and creates empathy for the characters when they are going through tough times. One moment in the movie that struck me was when Foley had the car accident at the start, it just came out of nowhere and he just walked away from it without any worries. I really enjoyed seeing the inside of the shearing shed and seeing the process of actual shearing. Sometimes I found it hard to understand what was happening throughout the movie, as I haven't had much to do with shearing and don't know some of the language associated with it.
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Available on DVD
simonkevnorris3 December 2006
I saw this movie when I was a student in Perth and it's one of the films that I'd like to add to my collection. I've searched various places and never had any luck finding it (even on VHS).

I've found it available on Dstore and have ordered it. This company can now deliver DVDs (and other items) to the UK and other European countries, USA and Canada as well as Japan.

The web site is I have used them personally on about six or seven previous occasions and can now be used for a useful source of Australian movies (some of which can be hard to find). Previously I've had some delivered to my parents address in Perth and they've sent them onto me.
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Dull and depressing
Dcamplisson1 June 2014
Tiresome film about men in a weird and somewhat suspect macho culture shearing sheep, boozing, shearing more sheep and boozing more. It's an amazing slice of life. Men ( the few women in the movie are not relevant to the story) who seem to have little or no connection to life beyond booze and monotonous work. There's an interesting exposure to the arcane language of shearing but little interchange about much else of interest. It's a monoculture and not a hugely interesting one at that. The British and Irish working class origins of Aussie culture are apparent. Anyone familiar with the kinds of booze ridden, gender segregated cultures found in the British isles rural or working class ghettoes will be familiar with this culture. It was reminiscent of the culture portrayed in " Once were warriors" from neighbouring NZ. I watched the whole thing even though I was ready to dump it when the men started wiggling their naked bums, but it never really reached sny climax or conclusion.
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Not for a teenager
heagneyn4 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This movie wasn't a great movie to watch as a teenager in the 21st century because the video quality wasn't all up to scratch, but I do understand that this movies was made back in the 80's, and I must agree with the reality of the film as the life of a shearer on a remote cattle station. This movie could of been set out better because there are some scenes that in reality wouldn't survive or do. I found it a little hard watching the film because since this movie was based in around mid 1900's, the way of life is completely different from 2013, where as men ruled life and women and children had very few rights, which I think it was very wrong, but thank goodness for modern times.

I personally don't recommend watching the movie as a teenager but it is the people's choice.
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watch it, don't read
vogelj-650-2870844 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
my take on this movie is that it was a classic Aussie film filled with Aussie humour but it has a its fair share of sadness.One such scene was when the old shearer dies after a heavy night on the booze. This movie also has a few classic Australian bar fight scenes where its a good old fashioned punch on.

One of the things that struck me about this movie was how hard the workers had to live while out on the farm considering how hard they work every day. The other thing that I found different was the way that everything seemed to be a job for the male and not much was done by the females because it wasn't considered right.
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