Samson and Delilah (2009 film)

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Samson and Delilah
Samson and Delilah poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Warwick Thornton
Produced by Kath Shelper
Written byWarwick Thornton
Starring Rowan McNamara
Marissa Gibson
Music byWarwick Thornton
CinematographyWarwick Thornton
Edited byRoland Gallois
Distributed by Madman Entertainment
Release date
  • 20 February 2009 (2009-02-20)(Adelaide)
  • 7 May 2009 (2009-05-07)(Australia)
Running time
97 minutes

Samson and Delilah is a 2009 Australian drama film directed by Warwick Thornton and starring Rowan McNamara and Marissa Gibson, both young first time actors. It was filmed in and around Alice Springs. Described as a "survival love story" by the director, the film depicts two indigenous Australian 14-year-olds living in a remote Aboriginal community who steal a car and escape their difficult lives by going to Alice Springs. [1] The film competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, [2] winning the Caméra d'Or ('Gold Camera Award' for best first feature film) at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. [3] [4] The film also won the Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Film in 2009. [5] Screen Australia announced on 29 September 2009 that the film had been nominated as Australia's official entry in the Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film category. [6]



Samson and Delilah are 14-year-olds who live in an Aboriginal community near Alice Springs. Samson is a mute boy living in a run-down shelter with his brother's band playing reggae music all day right outside his bedroom. He sniffs petrol every morning. Samson is interested in Delilah, who lives with her grandmother, and throws a rock at her outside the local convenience store. In spite of mocking encouragement from her grandmother, Delilah is not interested in him. Samson spends a day following Delilah around and attempts to move in with Delilah.

Delilah's grandmother dies and the old women blame her 'neglect' for the death and thrash her. Samson in a fit of rage beats his brother to shut him and his band up but his brother beats him up.

Samson steals a car and takes Delilah to Alice Springs where they live rough under a bridge over the dry bed of the Todd River. Gonzo, a deranged homeless man living there, helps them. Samson continues to sniff petrol. At one point, he gets so high that he does not notice when Delilah is taken by a group of white teenagers in a car. She is raped and bashed, but eventually comes back to Samson, who is unconscious. She begins sniffing petrol, too. With Samson again dazed by petrol, they are walking along the street and Delilah is hit by a car. When Samson eventually comes to and realises she has been hit, he believes she is dead and cuts off his hair as a sign of respect. He spends weeks sitting in the same position under the bridge sniffing petrol as a means of getting over her death. She comes back and rescues Samson, and they are both brought back to their village. As they arrive, one of the old women begins to beat Samson for stealing the community's only car. Delilah decides to take Samson to a secluded area for rehabilitation, and to get over his petrol sniffing habit. Eventually Samson stops sniffing petrol, and over time Delilah is able to coax him back to his original state.



Based on 48 reviews, the film holds a 94% Fresh rating on the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The critical consensus states that "Alternately beautiful and heartrending, Samson and Delilah is terrifically acted and shot, and presents a complex portrait of what it means to be Australian." [7] Samson and Delilah received five stars from both Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton on At The Movies , and was the only film to receive such a rating from the hosts in 2009. [8] [9]

Craig Mathieson of SBS awarded the director's debut feature film four stars out of five, commenting that "the picture has an intrinsic sweetness, a genuine belief in the power of an individual’s love, but it is offset by a brutal worldview." [10]


Art Film Fest [11] Best DirectorWarwick ThorntonWon
Asia Pacific Screen Awards [12] Best FilmKath ShelperWon
Australian Film Institute [13] Best Direction Warwick ThorntonWon
Best Film Kath ShelperWon
Best Original Screenplay Warwick ThorntonWon
Best Cinematography Won
Best Sound Won
Best Editing Roland GalloisNominated
Best Lead Actor Rowan McNamaraNominated
Best Lead Actress Marissa GibsonNominated
Best Supporting Actress Mitjili Napanangka GibsonNominated
Australian Screen Sound Guild Best Sound DesignWon
Australian Writers' Guild [14] Feature FilmWarwick ThorntonWon
Major AwardWarwick ThorntonWon
Cannes Film Festival [2] Golden Camera AwardWarwick ThorntonWon
Dublin International Film Festival [15] Best FilmWarwick ThorntonWon
Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards [16] Best CinematographyWon
Best DirectorWarwick ThorntonWon
Best FilmKath ShelperWon
Best ActressMarissa GibsonNominated
Best EditingNominated
Best ScreenplayNominated
IF Awards [17] Best SoundNominated
Palm Springs International Film Festival [18] John Schlesinger Award – Honorable MentionWarwick ThorntonWon

Box office

Samson and Delilah grossed $3,188,931 at the box office in Australia. [19]

See also

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