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The two narratives of Stone (1974) : culture and industry
conference contributionposted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Errol Estate Of ViethErrol Estate Of Vieth
When Sandy Harbutt’s motorcycling film Stone rumbled across Australian cinema screens in 1974, critics were appalled, but audiences did not take any notice, and flocked to the film in unprecedented numbers. Given the film’s record-breaking run, one might have thought that Harbutt’s career in the emerging Australian film industry would have been assured, but a brief look at any film database will show that he never again played any part in the industry. His film remains the pre-eminent Australian motorcycling film, the equivalent of Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969) in the United States. Both films had significance in both the film industry in their respective countries and the alternative culture in which they were grounded. This paper re-examines the significance of Stone in the Australian film industry through an examination of the relationship between the director, Sandy Harbutt, and the Australian film bureaucracy at the time. It draws on extensive interviews with Harbutt. The second narrative jigsaws with the first, in that the representation of motorcycling culture was an affront to the sensitivities of the film bureaucracy, yet the film successfully encapsulated and mythologised a certain motorcycling lifestyle. Throughout this re-examination, parallels and divergences with Easy Rider, in both culture and industry, are highlighted.