Midnight Oil 1984

Out Now On-Demand

The year the Oils inspired a nation.

Documentary chronicling a crucial year in the life of Midnight Oil - the release of Red Sails in the Sunset, relentless touring, and the balancing of music and politics made all the more difficult by Peter Garrett's run for Senate. Features concert footage from their most legendary shows, and follows the personal struggles of band members in archival and behind-the-scenes footage - some of which has never before been seen.

Trailers

Directed by

Documentary, Music

89mins

Rating: M Offensive language

Australia

A personal note - I was never a fan of Midnight Oil. When the band was at their peak I was just a kid, and they were frankly a bit scary. Heading into my teens Peter Garrett and his lurching frame had stopped being scary, and were just plain uncool. Musicians who cared about stuff like the environment? Ugh!

Nowadays as a mostly-formed adult who appreciates his place in the world, I regret my apathy, and can appreciate what an awesome outfit they were. And the thing that cements their place is, of course, the stuff I found so cringe-worthy. They were great because they cared. Marry a sense of purpose with formidable musicianship and you have lightning in a bottle.

The bulk of this documentary is a trove of unearthed concert and behind-the-scenes footage, which offstage finds Midnight Oil preoccupied with nukes. As drummer Rob Hirst points out near the start of the film, it wasn’t long ago that the threat of nuclear oblivion was constantly on the horizon. Keeping it out of their music wasn’t an option.

A series of present-day talking heads form the spine of the movie, while the 1984 narrative concerns Garrett’s first foray into politics with the Nuclear Disarmament Party. Offstage Garrett is an eloquent, gentle man, but he’s captured onstage at the height of his fearsome powers, totally unafraid, according to stage manager Michael Lippold, to “make a dick of himself”.

It goes without saying that this is one for the fans. It’s largely concert footage, so familiarity with the songs goes a long way. The thing is, I found I had most of them lodged in my head somewhere, waiting to be remembered. They’ve stood the test of time, even with someone who wasn’t always that fussed.

Sydney Morning Herald

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What the film does best is to demonstrate the strength of the bond between the band and its audience.

News Corp (Australia)

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You’ll see Peter Garrett as never before. It delivers. And there are a few candid offstage moments fans can’t miss.

TimeOut (Sydney)

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Ray Argall’s concert tour documentary captures the power and the passion of Australia’s greatest political rock band in their heyday.

Adelaide Review

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This is a wonderfully nostalgic study of one of the greatest Aussie bands ever. One of the sweatiest, too.

The Guardian

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Ray Argall’s film captures a fascinating moment in history alongside a band that was on top of the world – and trying to save it.

Daily Telegraph (Australia)

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It delivers. And there are a few candid offstage moments fans can't miss.

The Age (Australia)

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The uncertainty his efforts created internally are sympathetically treated in the contemporary interviews, but it would have been of value to draw out further questions of fandom and policy's interaction.