Black And White


In late 1958, in the remote town of Ceduna in South Australia, a nine year old white girl was brutally raped and bludgeoned to death in a beach cave.

Shortly thereafter, in the presence of six local police officers, a full confession was signed by Max Stuart, an itinerant, alcoholic Aboriginal man of mixed descent, and his conviction and subsequent hanging for the crime seemed inevitable.

Craig Lahiff's Black and White is a powerful dramatisation of Stuart's ensuing trial and numerous appeals, in a case which divided a nation, and exposed for the first time the rotten foundations on which Australia's most important institutions were built.


Robert Carlyle - David O'Sullivan
Charles Dance - Roderic Chamberlain
Kerry Fox - Helen Devaney
Colin Friels - Father Tom Dixon
Ben Mendelsohn - Rupert Murdoch
David Ngoombujarra - Max Stuart
Roy Billing - Det-Sgt Turner
Bille Brown - Thomas Playford
John Gregg - Rohan Rivett
Heather Mitchell - Roma Chamberlain
Garry Waddell - Constable Jones
Frank Gallacher - Justice Reed
Rhys McConnochie - Justice Abbott
Vincent Ball - Chief Justice Napier
Chris Haywood - Karskens
Release dates
31 October 2002 - Australia
9 January 2004 - Great Britain
First shown at the Sydney Film Festival in June 2002.
Video/DVD release date
11 February 2004 (DVD)
Australia 2003: Best S. Actor: David Ngoombujarra
MA 15+ - Mature accompanied
Metro Tartan
Cezary Skubiszewski

His conviction for killing a young girl exposed flaws in a police investigation and is credited with helping abolish the death penalty in South Australia.

A police officer involved in the investigation - Paul Turner - admitted on his death bed that police had "jollied" the confession out of Stuart, and once they had gotten it, they bashed him [[#1 'Aboriginal leader Kwementyaye Stuart, whose life sparked royal commission and inspired film, dies in Alice Springs', ABC News 18/11/2014]].

Aboriginal filmmaker Rachel Perkins made a 1990 documentary about Mr Stuart called Broken English.

Max Stuart died of lung disease in November 2014 at his home at an Alice Springs retirement village.

Another film by the same name exists (directed by James Toback) which featured an American topic in 1999.

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Korff, J 2019, Black And White, <>, retrieved 19 June 2024

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