Petersen (film)

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Directed by Tim Burstall
Produced by Tim Burstall
Written by David Williamson
Starring Jack Thompson
Jacki Weaver
Wendy Hughes
Music by Peter Best
Cinematography Robin Copping
Edited by David Bilcock
Distributed by Roadshow (Australia)
Avco-Embassy (USA)
Columbia-Warner (UK)
Release date
  • 25 October 1974 (1974-10-25)
Running time
107 minutes
Country Australia
Language English
Budget AU$226,000[1] or $240,000[2]
Box office $1,363,000 (Aust)

Petersen is a 1974 Australian drama film directed by Tim Burstall.

Petersen was a box office success and received wide distribution in the UK and US under the title Jock Petersen. Petersen is first and foremost a sobering critique of Australian life in the early 1970s. Petersen is considered one of the better social dramas from the early years of the Australian film revival. Stanley Kubrick praised the film on its release, particularly Burstall's direction and Jack Thompson's lead performance.[3] Jack Thompson won the Hoyts Prize for Best Performance at the 1975 AFI Awards for his performance in Petersen.[4]


Tony Petersen is an electrical tradesman and former football star who is studying arts at the University of Melbourne, and majoring in English. Despite being married to adoring wife Susie, he is having an affair with his lecturer, Trish Kent, and has a fling with student Moira as part of a protest. Trish's husband Charles fails Petersen in his exams and Trish leaves for Oxford. Petersen rapes Trish and returns to his old life.



Burstall wanted to make the story as the first film from Hexagon Productions and commissioned David Williamson to write a screenplay, the original title of which was Sittin' and Tony Petersen. However Williamson was working on many projects at the time so Hexagon made two Alvin Purple films instead.[1]

Burstall claimed that Graham Burke of Heaxgon did not want to make Petersen, so Burstall tried to get funding from the Australian Film Development Corporation, but when they rejected the film Hexagon came on board.[5] The film also used the working title Campus.[6]

Jack Thompson was paid $1,000 a week.[5] It was Wendy Hughes first film and she later said "I didn't know whether I was Arthur or Martha half the time".[7]


Critical reception to the film was harsh[1] however Petersen grossed $1,363,000 at the box office in Australia,[8] which is equivalent to $9,200,250 in 2009 dollars. Burstall says it made a profit of $70,000 from its Australian release alone.[5] The film was also released in the US and UK and made a star of Jack Thompson.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d David Stratton, The Last New Wave: The Australian Film Revival, Angus & Robertson, 1980 p31-33
  2. ^ "'More scope' for film actor in Australia". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). ACT: National Library of Australia. 28 October 1974. p. 6. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  3. ^ Australian screen; curator's notes by Richard Kuipers
  4. ^ IMDb awards
  5. ^ a b c Scott Murray, 'Tim Burstall', Cinema Papers Sept-Oct 1979 p495-496
  6. ^ "David Williamson", Cinema Papers, January 1974 p7
  7. ^ Richard Brennan, "Wendy Hughes", Cinema Papers, October 1982 p431
  8. ^ Film Victoria - Australian Films at the Australian Box Office
  • Murray, Scott, ed. (1994). Australian Cinema. St.Leonards, NSW.: Allen & Unwin/AFC. p. 284. ISBN 1-86373-311-6.

External links

  • Petersen on IMDb
  • Petersen at the Australian screen
  • Petersen at Oz Movies
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