PHOTO: The Castle

Practically every Australian has a favourite line from The Castle. For some it is the serenity of Bonnie Doon, the daggy dad kitchen conversation (“what do you call that, darl?”) or the jousting sticks for sale on Trading Post (“tell him he’s dreamin’!”). For others, it is the classic exclamation: “This is going straight to the pool room!”


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That Castle-speak remains pervasive today is just one indicator of the 1997 film’s enduring cultural resonance. The relatively low-budget local production has become one of the most beloved Australian movies of all time. Next month, the film will celebrate its 25th anniversary.

“When we first did a sit-down read, it was just a funny, lovely, humble, charming little film,” Tiriel Mora, who played suburban solicitor Dennis Denuto, tells Guardian Australia. “But very much a little film. We shot it in 10-and-a-half days, and that included a half day in Canberra for the high court stuff. We couldn’t possibly know that it would resonate like it did.” But resonate it has, at the time and ever since. “It just grew and grew and grew,” he adds.

Anthony Simcoe, Stephen Curry, Michael Caton and Anne Tenney in The Castle
The Castle: rewatching classic Australian films

The Castle tells the story of the Kerrigan family’s battle to save their suburban Melbourne home, their castle, from compulsory acquisition as the airport bordering the property seeks to expand. Father Darryl Kerrigan persuades local solicitor Denuto (more familiar with defending petty criminals – including Kerrigan’s son – than the constitution) to challenge the acquisition. After Denuto loses the case, retired barrister Lawrence Hammill QC (played by Bud Tingwell) offers to appeal pro bono to the high court. Against all odds, they win.

Michael Caton and Tiriel Mora in The Castle

Michael Caton and Tiriel Mora in The Castle. Photograph: United Archives GmbH/Alamy



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