The Australian Dream

Aida Vucic | 29/08/2019

A stirring and powerful documentary about an Australian great. 


The Australian Dream is a documentary which follows the career of Adam Goodes and ultimately the events which lead to his early retirement from AFL in 2015. The film uses archival footage as well as interviews to piece together a sobering story of the underlying racism that still prevails in Australia today.


Also featured are former AFL players Michael O'Loughlin (second cousin of Goodes), Gilbert McAdam and Nicky Winmar, with McAdam and Winmar both recounting their own experiences of the racial torments they received whilst playing the sport that they loved. Among the interviewees are Eddie Maguire and Andrew Bolt, both of whom have been affiliated with fuelling the hatred towards Goodes. Whilst Maguire shows clear remorse about his infamous recording on X radio (which is replayed in a tremendously tense, heartbreaking sequence from director Daniel Gordon), Bolt’s persona contrasts sharply. His comments throughout the documentary continue to allude to Goodes as being solely responsible for the hostility displayed by the public.


The inclusion of these two white men, who have controlled the narrative for so long is ingenious as the public is provided a rare opportunity to see the fallacies of their words. Their sentiments, too often shown only in the echo chamber of Australian media, have never been as effectively or compellingly disputed as with this documentary. 


The documentary is written and produced by Stan Grant. Grant is captivating and his delivery is eloquent but his presence is unclear until the latter half of the film. Interjected in the documentary is Grant’s own speech during part of the IQ2 debate series held by the Ethics Centre in 2016, which perfectly summarises the films intent.


Amongst all of this there is Adam Goodes, who comes across as knowledgeable, intelligent and passionate. His anger and pain is clear to see, but never comes across as anything but righteous. Coupled with director Daniel Gordon’s solid grasp on the subject matter and the format, this crafts a documentary that will make even the most sceptical amongst the audience believe in the power of words, symbols and the choice of dates to hurt. 


Deliberate without being forceful, The Australian Dream carefully balances between educating the public and turning the mirror on ourselves.