This is not the first time Colin Thiele’s revered 1964 novel – we’d call it a Young Adult book these days – has been brought to the screen. Storm Boy took cinematic wing way back in 1976 under the direction of Henri Safran, handily scooping up the Jury Prize and Best Film at that year’s AFI Awards. Now, 42 years and a stage and radio adaptation later, it’s returning to the multiplexes under the stewardship of veteran TV director Shawn Seet.
For those who never read a book in primary school, Storm Boy tells of the adventures of the titular young lad (Finn Little), who lives with his hermit father, Hideaway Tom (Jai Courtney), on the remote South Australian Coast. With the help of local Indigenous man Fingerbone Bill (Trevor Jamieson), Storm Boy helps raise three orphaned pelican chicks he rescues after their mother is shot. This altruistic act sets in motion events that will change both his and his father’s lives forever.
The book is a stone cold classic and the ’76 film a much-lauded work. Can the 2018 iteration stand up? Judging by the trailer they’re certainly giving it a red hot go, although the addition of a framing sequence wherein an aged Storm Boy (Geoffrey Rush) narrates the events of his youth gives us pause. That aside, this looks the business.
Storm Boy is in Australian cinemas from January 10, 2019.