Midnight Oil: 1984 Movie Review

For those expecting to see a film showing one of Australia’s most incendiary live acts playing during one of their peak eras, disappointment beckons. Midnight Oil: 1984 plays out more like the Peter Garrett show than a film about the Oils. This is not to say it doesn’t have a something to offer, it just needs to be put into context.

Focusing almost solely on Garretts first run in politics is an interesting story in and of itself and the reward for long time Oils fans is present. That gift is a selection of live footage that highlights the last era of the band when they were truly powered by punk energy and righteous indignation (other than the resurgent period of Redneck Wonderland brought about by the rise of the chip witch from Ipswich). The live footage however is frustratingly incomplete and no complete songs are shown. Once again it must be stated that this is not a concert film.



The behind the scenes footage is also on the thin side and shows no back stage debauchery. This was a band made up of serious young lads with something to say and using loud music to say it. It also heralded a time when the band began to expand their sound past just guitars, bass and drums, so there are some revealing scenes of going over song changes with their new to the band horn section.

As a historical time capsule, the film is on point and for later day fans whose knowledge of the band’s early years is hazy, it’s a great place to start. For hard core fans you should now know what you’re getting and in that context it offers insight and interesting information on the band’s mid-eighties period.

Midnight Oil: 1984 is playing for a strictly limited season from 10 May.