One of Rolf de Heer’s great strengths as a filmmaker is his recognition that the cinema can be used to put us imaginatively in touch with other times, other people and other places.
Turning from the geographical distance of the Arafura Swamp to the temporal distance of 1907, de Heer consolidates his reputation as Australia’s most unpredictably imaginative filmmaker. As he tells it, the genesis of this film was the desire to use up some left-over film stock, but having made a decision, de Heer always throws himself into a project, and this was to be no simple period film.
Dr Plonk is a black and white, silent comedy shot with a hand-cranked camera and brimming with romance, action and especially, slapstick comedy (think of Chaplin, Keaton or Harold Lloyd). The eponymous scientist/inventor (Nigel Lunghi aka Mr Spin) calculates that the world will end in 101 years unless immediate action is taken to stop the fatal chain of events hop being initiated. Assisted by his formidable wife (Magda Szubanski), his faithful manservant Paulus (Paul Blackwell), and his trusty but demented Jack Russell terrier (Reg), Plonk realises that he needs to furnish evidence his grave claims. He sets out to invent a time machine in order to visit the outlandishly strange and deadly year of 2007.
Festivals: Adelaide FF 2007 – Closing Night film; Brisbane FF 07; Toronto FF 07; Goteburg FF 08