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The Last Tasmanian (1978)

TThe Tasmanians were a distinct people, isolated from Australia and the rest of the world for 12,000 years, until in 1803, British colonisation began.


Tom Haydon
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Leo McKern ... Himself / Narrator
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jim Allen Jim Allen ... Himself (as Dr. Jim Allen)
Rhys Jones Rhys Jones ... Himself (as Dr. Rhys Jones)
D.A. Lowe D.A. Lowe ... Himself
Annette Mansell Annette Mansell ... Herself
Andre Mary Andre Mary ... Himself


The Tasmanians were a distinct people, isolated from Australia and the rest of the world for 12,000 years. In 1803, British colonisation began and in 1876, Truganini died. For a long time she was thought to have been the last full-blood and tribal Tasmanian Aboriginal. Within her one lifetime, a whole society and culture were removed from the face of the earth. The Last Tasmanian had an extraordinary impact upon a very wide public in the years following its cinema release in 1978. It is a deeply moving and finely crafted work which has been credited by historians for substantially altering Australian perceptions of the colonial past. This pioneering achievement in historical detective work opens with the State funeral in 1976 for the remains of Truganini who died 100 years before. She was the last full-blood Aborigine in Tasmania. The film follows the work of Dr Rhys Jones, archaeologist and anthropologist, in his search to discover and comprehend the life and death of the Tasmanian ... Written by Paul Gerard Kennedy

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Australia | France



Release Date:

February 1982 (USA) See more »

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User Reviews

A fascinating, but appalling insight into the past
14 April 2008 | by stevew-32See all my reviews

I have only just seen this film, even though it was made back in 1978. Considering its age, and the changes to technology since, the quality of the film is quite good. I am married to a Tasmanian and she has told me in the past about the last Tasmanian Aboriginal - a woman by the name of Truganini who passed away in 1876. This film explores the history of the British takeover of Tasmania as a penal settlement and the various attempts that the government of the day made to either westernise the aboriginal people, or eradicate them. It shows how the introduction of sheep into Tasmania caused the usual hunting grounds to be barred to many aboriginals, and how they reacted by killing shepherds (usually ex-convicts) who they saw as the reason for their restriction. This then appears to have given the authorities at the time the reason for their, in the end, terrible treatment of these people. The film gives graphic detail of this treatment - from rape to indiscriminate murder. It also explores how 'do-gooders' attempted to gather them altogether to convert them to Christianity and how this gathering in of people from their remote areas where they were happy and healthy, caused them to quite quickly die from the introduction of germs and viruses (influenza etc.) whilst housed in penal settlements and other similar group situations. The film also gives an amazing insight into why many of their skeletons were dug up and sent around the world to museums etc. Some bright spark decides that these aboriginals are directly related to Neanderthal man, and are caught in a 'time-loop'. Suddenly all the Anthropologists want some bones. The film ends with what happens to the last three remaining - two women and one man. Truganini is the last, and expresses her wish that her remains must not be tampered with, however some government official bypasses the red tape and her skeleton goes on display. The final scenes are of the 1970's when her cremated remains are at last poured into the bay near Briny Island. Overall, a remarkable insight into a very tragic period of Australian history.

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