• Retrospective: Muloorina (1964)

    From David N. Butterworth@21:1/5 to All on Sun Jun 5 20:35:11 2016
    MULOORINA (1964)
    A film review by David N. Butterworth
    Copyright 2016 David N. Butterworth

    **1/2 (out of ****)

    Misspelled (as "Muloornia") on countless filmographies until it was posted
    on YouTube by its director David Cobham some fifty years after it was made,
    the John Barry-scored, British Petroleum-produced short film "Muloorina" chronicles the aborted attempt by British speed demon Donald Campbell (1921
    - 1967) to break the world land speed record in his famous Bluebird CN7 in
    May of 1963. The venue was Muloorina, South Australia, a rugged outback settlement adjacent to the vast Lake Eyre. It hadn't rained in the region
    for an eternity (estimates vary between nine and twenty years) and
    conditions were said to be perfect on the dried-up salt bed. Cobham's
    spry, 27-minute film starts out by focusing on the Price family--patriarch Eliott Price narrates with a lyrical insouciance--that farms this
    inhospitable land, raising livestock. Times are tough, belying the
    homestead's name (Muloorina is Australian for "plenty of tucker"), and it
    is with some financial relief that the family welcomes Campbell and his entourage into their fold, providing food, shelter, and other resources for
    the latest world-record attempt. The film documents Campbell's ramp-up
    towards the final run which never came to fruition, because the rains came instead. Light at first and then torrential, the storm flooded the area
    and caused the project to be abandoned. Campbell would return to Lake Eyre
    the following year, however, and finally fulfill his dream (403.10 mph)
    prior to his fatal world water speed record attempt three years later--I
    was only five years old at the time but can still recall the shocking
    footage of Campbell's Bluebird K7 somersaulting on Cumbria's Coniston Water
    in January, 1967. Wall-to-wall music, at times dramatic, playful, and
    somber, orchestrates Campbell's first visit to Lake Eyre, and "Muloorina" proves a capable and fitting tribute to a man who just had to go faster.

    David N. Butterworth

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