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Storm Boy
Directed byHenri Safran
Written bySonia Borg
Sidney Stebel
Based onStorm Boy by
Colin Thiele
Produced byMatt Carroll
StarringGreg Rowe
Peter Cummins
David Gulpilil
CinematographyGeoff Burton
Edited byG. Turney-Smith
Music byMichael Carlos
Release dates
19 November 1976 (South Australia)
1977 (other states)
Running time
88 minutes
Box officeAU$2,645,000 (Australia)

Storm Boy is a 1976 Australian drama film based on the 1964 book of the same name by Colin Thiele, about a lonely boy and his pet pelicans living in a coastal wilderness with his reclusive father. It was the third feature film made by the South Australian Film Corporation, and is a highlight of the New Wave of Australian Cinema from the 1970s. The film was financed by SAFC, Seven Network and the Australian Film Commission.


Mike (Greg Rowe) is a lonely young boy wandering through the fierce deserted coast of South Australia's Coorong, near the mouth of the Murray River. He and his reclusive father 'Hide Away' Tom (Peter Cummins) live in the isolated sand dunes facing the Southern Ocean. In search of friendship, Mike encounters another recluse in the wilderness, Fingerbone Bill (David Gulpilil), an Aboriginal man estranged from his tribal people. Fingerbone names Mike "Storm Boy" and enlists the child's help caring for three orphaned pelican chicks.

Eventually, Mike's Dad insists that he release the grown birds back into the wild. However one particular pelican, named 'Mr Percival' by Mike, returns. The bird forms a deep bond with the boy until sadly, Mr Percival is shot by duck shooters. With the wise guidance of Fingerbone Bill, Mike learns of the cycle of life and is eventually allowed by his father to attend school for the first time in a nearby village.



Colin Thiele had little involvement in the scripting of the film. His only requirement was that his novel was not turned into a sex comedy.[2] The budget came from the South Australian Film Corporation, the Australian Film Commission and the Seven television network.

Shooting began in May 1976, with exteriors shot near Goolwa and interiors in the SAFC's studio at Norwood. Eleven-year-old Greg Rowe was an untrained actor, selected from over 70 applicants.[1] Three pelicans played the lead pelican.[3] In 2009 Mr Percival died at Royal Adelaide Zoo, aged 33 years old.

The production team later reunited on Blue Fin (1978).[4]


Storm Boy was a hit, grossing $2,645,000 at the box office in Australia,[5] which is equivalent to $13,674,650 in 2009 dollars.


It was a popular children's film both in Australia and Britain and won a medal at the Moscow Film Festival in 1977 for best children's film.

Award Category Subject Result
AACTA Awards
(1976 AFI Awards)
Best Film Matt Carroll Won
Best Direction Henri Safran Nominated
Best Screenplay, Original or Adapted Sonia Borg Nominated
Sidney Stebel Nominated
Best Actor David Gulpilil Nominated
Best Sound Bob Cogger Nominated
Best Production Design David Copping Nominated
Best Costume Design Helen Evans Nominated
ACS Award Cinematographer of the Year Geoff Burton Won
AWGIE Award Best Writing in a Feature Film - Adapted Sonia Borg Won
Sidney Stebel Won


Main article: Storm Boy (2019 film)

In 2016, the 40th anniversary of the original film adaptation, Screen Australia announced support for a remake of the 1976 film.[6] Australia's National Film and Sound Archive also placed on limited releasing a digital re-mastering of the original 1976 film, for use at film festivals.

The new Storm Boy film, produced by Michael Boughen and Matthew Street, has a screenplay written by Justin Monjo and is to be directed by Shawn Seet.[7] The cast includes Geoffrey Rush, Finn Little, Jai Courtney and Erik Thomson.

See also


  1. ^ a b Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, p 306
  2. ^ Paul Davies, "Sonia Borg", Cinema Papers, Oct-Nov 1978 p109-111, 162
  3. ^ "Meet Dum Dum... Sandwich... and Carpenter... WATCH THE BIRDIES". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 25 August 1976. p. 50. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  4. ^ "How the little town of Streaky Bay got into films". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 27 September 1978. p. 52. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  5. ^ Film Victoria – Australian Films at the Australian Box Office
  6. ^ "Storm Boy remake planned 40 years after original award-winning film - ABC News". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 16 June 2021.
  7. ^ Dayman, Isabelle. (26 July 2016). "Storm Boy remake with actor Geoffrey Rush about to start filming in SA Coorong", ABC News, Australia. Retrieved 19 December 2017.