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Burn the Butterflies

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Burn the Butterflies
Written byCliff Green
Directed byOscar Whitbread
StarringRay Barrett
Fred Parslow
Alan Hopgood
Rowena Wallace
Country of originAustralia
Original languageEnglish
ProducerOscar Whitbread
CinematographyIan Warburton
Running time77 min
Production companyABC
Picture formatColor
Original releaseOctober 14, 1979 (1979-10-14)

Burn the Butterflies is an Australian 1979 TV movie about a government dealing with the controversy around uranium mining.[1] It stars Ray Barrett as the Prime Minister of Australia.

There was some criticism in the press,[2] but it won a Logie in 1980 for best single drama.[3]

It was written by Cliff Green. who described it as an "experiment".

Cheeky me wanting to push the boundaries and do a drama within another drama, which moved in real time and was relatively cheap to make... There was a crisis in Government and there were news teams filming what was happening. And that was the documentary that was a fake documentary. And all the action, all the on-stage action (if that is the right word) was happening in the Prime Minister's suite in Canberra—so the way he was reacting, and who he was talking to—it was almost a one-man show. And it was beautifully performed. By Ray Barrett. It was wonderful.[4]

Green says the idea to make the film came out of a week he had spent in Canberra for the Australian Writers Guild lobbying for the arts budget.

We brought up the highflyers from Australian Opera, and the ballet, and the Sydney Theatre Company—but we did the hard work. We knocked on the doors and we faced the politicians. And I understood, at the end of that, how that place worked. And it was nothing like how we thought it worked. And if I had decided that I would like to do a Canberra-based piece and set myself, and got up and become a member of the press corps for a few weeks I wouldn’t have got it. It was being in there, and understanding the contradictions, and the layers of commitment and attitude, and so on, that brought it on, that gave me the confidence to write it.[4]


  1. ^ Ed. Scott Murray, Australia on the Small Screen 1970–1995, Oxford Uni Press, 1996 p21
  2. ^ "TELEVISION Well, the bookcase was convincing". The Canberra Times. 19 October 1979. p. 23. Retrieved 7 August 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ Burn the Butterflies at AustLit
  4. ^ a b Oral history of Cliff Green, Australian Writers Guild Archived 23 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine accessed 13 July 2013

External links

This page was last edited on 11 February 2021, at 08:25
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