Remembering Colin Bennett (and Tim Burstall) - Ex-Melburnians Adrian Martin and Rod Bishop recall.
In a previous post, which you can find if you click here,
devoted to remembering legendary Melbourne Age film critic Colin Bennett
Phillip Adams asked "remember when Tim Burstall was going to give him a
knuckle sandwich ..was it over 2000 Weeks? ". Some people have remembered
that as well as Colin himself. So things have expanded a little but
Adrian Martin writes: Colin
B. was definitely an influence on this precocious teenage cinephile mind in the
mid 1970s. When I cleared out my Monash University office last year, I found,
in an ancient box, a folder of clippings of his reviews and essays I had
compiled back then (I duly donated it to my Monash colleagues for their
Australian Film Culture courses!). I have an especially vivid memory of his
pretty positive review of Welles' F FOR FAKE, which had a brief cinema run in
Melbourne. I think I twigged pretty fast to the sense that he was an 'old
school' film buff, neither 'auteurist' nor (god forbid) 'semiotic', but it
didn't bother me overly - as you say, Geoff, he was one of the few people in
public standing up for important 'film culture' issues of the day. I remember spotting
him at least one Melbourne Film Festival (in the company of his teenage/young
adult son, maybe?) after his 'last days chez AGE', but I never met or spoke to
him personally. When I became a film reviewer on the circuit in the mid 90s,
Ivan Hutchinson and Keith Connolly (another heavily 'social issue' old-school
character) still reminisced warmly about him. In more recent years, I know
there was some interest among scholars such as Deane
Williams and Tom
O'Regan in looking him up, getting him on record as to his days at THE
AGE, etc. But I don't know yet whether any material like this has actually been
gathered ....Another flash: I think he even wrote about some film
magazines as they emerged - such as CINEMA PAPERS.
In response to Phillip Adams question as to whether Tim
Burstall at least thought of giving Colin a knuckle sandwich, Rod Bishop
writes: Burstall tried to give everyone
a knuckle sandwich, didn't he? Certainly tried to clock me at the AFI Awards in
1973 over an interview I did with him for a magazine called
"Lumiere". Decades later, (Tim’s son) Tom Burstall told me Tim
had "revised" his opinion of me and now thought I was a "good bloke".
I've been feeling better ever since.
Colin Bennett’s brother David was the founding Principal of the Education
Reform Association School (ERA) in Donvale, an initiative of Preshill and the
World Education Fellowship. It was based on the educational principles of A.S.Neill's
Summerhill and is now referred to by its alumni as "that hippie school".
David was Principal from 1970 to 1973 and died young. More to come.....