2Samson & Delilah Film Review


An Australian film produced in 2009, Samson & Delilah is an Indigenous Australian masterpiece – Warwick Thronton’s brainchild. This film uses the two main characters i.e. Rowan McNamara (as Samson) and Marissa Gibson (as Delilah) to picture the life led by the indigenous Australians and the challenges they face not just socially but also politically. This article is a review of this indigenous Australian film.

Watching this film leaves one with the conclusion that it was produced by an indigenous Australian and characterised by indigenous Australian actors for the entire world to learn a thing or two. As a petrol sniffer, for example, Samson is neglected and even looked down upon by the surrounding community. This can be seen in the way Delilah’s grandmother mockingly recommends Delilah to Samson. In my opinion, the writer of this film wanted to convey a message to the outside world (and the non-indigenous Australians) the possible issues, challenges, and neglect the indigenous people face in Australia (Mayer & Beattie, 2007). This, Warwick Thornton cleverly accomplishes in his choice of the two main characters the 14-year old Samson and Delilah who are indigenous Australians.

From the life that Samson lives (and the influence it eventually has on his suitor Delilah), we see the writer attempting to convey the message of drug addiction among the indigenous Australian people. I presume that the writer of this film uses Samson’s habit of sniffing petrol to show a life of despair among some of the indigenous Australians hence resorting to drug abuse and addiction. Towards the tail end of the film, we see the two ‘lovebirds’ coming together after several struggles in life. What comes out clearly, though, is the fact that Delilah eventually turns out to be the one to help turn around her friend Samson’s petrol sniffing habit. This may be interpreted to mean that despite the numerous challenges faced by the indigenous Australians, no one comes to the rescue except their fellow indigenous Australians. This, perhaps, is a message to challenge the non-indigenous Australians to also worry about the problems faced by their indigenous Australian counterparts (Knabe & Pearson, 2014).

In one of the episodes in this Samson & Delilah, we see a clique of white youth ill-treating Delilah when her friend Samson is supposedly taken over by his petrol sniffing habit. They go to an extent of abusing her sexually even though Samson and Delilah still reunite and forge on. Whether mere coincidence or indeed a calculated move to drive a point home, Warwick Thornton seems to convey a message through this scenario. Why, for instance, does he use white teenagers as characters in this scene? This is possibly to insinuate that instead of helping the indigenous Australians in their vulnerability, the non-indigenous Australians are simply taking an advantage of them to even aggravate the situation (Continuum, 2013). This is probably Warwick Thornton’s appeal to both the indigenous and non-indigenous Australians to not only come together but also to come out and support each other especially the indigenous Australians.

While pain engulfs the film when Delilah’s grandmother passes on, the writer of Samson & Delilah takes that opportunity to prove a point particularly when the entire community joins in to blame Delilah for her grandmother’s demise. Two contrasting possibilities may come out of this scenario. One, the community around does not care about their own indigenous Australian whom they leave in the hands of her granddaughter. On the other hand, the fact that they intervene (though by pointing accusing fingers on her granddaughter Delilah) when Delilah’s grandmother passes on implies the sense of communal responsibility towards each other. It shows that they care. Even though they blame Delilah for her grandmother’s death, the community shows that they care when one of their own passes on and they would want to find out why and under what circumstances did they pass on. As to which of the two contrasting ideologies did Warwick Thornton want to strongly present is subject to the audience’s personal conviction.

In conclusion, it can be seen that the film Samson & Delilah was specifically written with the intention to unearth some of the experiences, challenges, and the communal life among the indigenous Australians in the eye of two indigenous Australian teenage characters. Overall, I believe the writer of the film ended up achieving his goal and the intended message. While he claims he largely wanted to communicate to the Central Australians only, it is evident that his message on the experiences, challenges, and social life of the indigenous Australians seemingly communicates to the entire world and Australians at large. According to Wood (2008), this is a clever way of using film to point out marginalisation and segregation in the society.


Continuum (2013). Re-reading Indigenous cinema: criticism, white liberal guilt and otherness, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies.

Knabe, S., & Pearson, W. G. (2014). Reverse shots: Indigenous film and media in an international context.

Mayer, G., & Beattie, K. (2007). The cinema of Australia and New Zealand. London: Wallflower Press.

Wood, H. (2008). Native features: Indigenous films from around the world. New York: Continuum.