The Man from Snowy River
is a 1982 Australian
film based on the Banjo Paterson
poem of the same name
. The film
had a cast including Tom Burlinson
"Jim Craig" (The Man), Kirk Douglas
twin brothers "Harrison", the owner of a large cattle station
and "Spur", a
one-legged miner, Sigrid Thornton
Harrison's daughter Jessica, and Jack Thompson
Both Tom Burlinson
and Sigrid Thornton
later reprised their roles
in the 1988 sequel, The
Man from Snowy River II
, which was released by Disney
The film opens with a montage of the Snowy River country. The
of horses is
running though the night and Jim Craig (Tom Burlinson
) and his father Henry (Terence Donovan
) sit in their
discussing their financial
situation. Their stock horse Bess starts to spook, and then the
sounds of the wild horses galloping is audible. Jim convinces his
father that they can catch the horses and they will be worth enough
so that they do not have to go off the mountain to find work.
The next day, Jim and Henry are out cutting down trees to clear
land and make a holding yard to capture the horses. While they have
a large tree attached to their gelding, the Brumbies come galloping
through, which gets their mare Bess excited, causing Jim to let go
of the gelding — this causes the chain holding the logs to break
and, in the process, the gelding's leg is broken. Now free, Bess
gallops off and joins the mob while the log rolls downhill directly
at Henry Craig, crushing him to death.
Henry Craig is buried beside his wife, outside of their mountain
home. Their sole heir is Jim, but a group of mountain men challenge
his claim after the funeral. Jim immediately argues the point,
reminding them that he is the owner of his father's land now. But
the men are adamant that Jim is to go down to the lowlands and earn
the right to live in the mountains like his father did. Having no
horse, Jim leaves and heads for a long-time friend of his called
Spur (Kirk Douglas
), a miner with a
Spur comments that "a man without a horse is like a man without a
leg" and takes Jim outside to a corral where a beautiful
dun-coloured horse is being held. Spur tells Jim "I have no
notion of his breeding but he's a mountain horse....He's
" Jim replies "I can't pay you for him.
Spur says "He's not for sale
". After an attempt to argue,
Jim finally accepts the horse "Denny" as a gift.
The next day, Jim leaves the high country for work on the flats,
after talking to a man about Harrison's colt sired of "Old Regret"
(the colt being worth a thousand pounds). When Jim arrives at
Harrison's (Spur's twin brother) station
to work, he is
given a job upon the lawyer's recommendation, but soon has a run-in
with Curly (Chris Haywood
), in a barn,
when Curly throws down a lit match into the hay, which Jim promptly
puts out shovelling manure on it. Curly then gets angry that some
manure lands on his boot in the process.
When it comes time to bring his cattle down from the mountains,
Harrison calls in his old friend Clancy
) (known in others of the
author's writings as, 'Clancy of the Overflow', a 'genius' horseman
in the vicinity). When Jim hears of this, he mentions to Curly and
the others that Clancy and his father were mates
and immediately gets laughed at
and called a liar — however, the men have to eat their words when
Clancy arrives at the cattle station next day and hands his horse's
reins to Jim, offering his sympathy at the death of Jim's father,
Henry, saying: "He was a good mate.
"Jim, however, is not
allowed to join the other men on the muster, as someone trusted is
needed to remain behind to look after the chores for the
While the others are gone, Harrison's daughter, Jessica (Sigrid Thornton
), a very strong-willed,
independent young lady (much to her father's chagrin), enlists the
help of Jim to break-in the priceless colt themselves. The pair is
successful. However, just before Harrison and the others return,
the Brumbies arrive, exciting all the horses there, and on impulse
Jim (seeing Bess in the mob) decides to give chase on Harrison's
valuable colt. Jim falls from the young colt when it refuses a
fence, and then is trampled by the mob. Lying on the ground in
pain, Jim slowly rolls over in enough time to be attacked by the
leader of the Brumby mob, known as "The Stallion" (which later
turns out to be Old Regret - sire of the colt).
Later, when Jim awakens, Jessica tells him that her father isn't
going to find out the truth of the incident. Jim says that he's not
going to lie to Harrison and if that means losing his job then
that's what happens, and is not fond of the idea of "hiding behind
the skirts of women". However, before Harrison can be told anything
at all, he tells Jim to retrieve some 20 stray cattle in the
ranges. Jim leaves, soon finding them. While he's gone, Harrison
notices signs that the colt has been ridden. When he asks Jessica
about it, he learns the truth and of the Brumby incident. Furious
that Jim put the expensive colt in danger "for a stock horse worth
a few shillings", he tells Jessica that when Jim gets back, he's
fired, and that she is to go away and be sent off to boarding
school, slapping her in anger, proclaiming, "You're as
deceitful as your mother!
". This infuriates Jessica so much
that she gets on her horse and gallops away looking for Jim.
Once in the mountains, Jessica is caught in a big storm. Her horse,
spooked, runs from her, and she falls over the edge of a cliff.
However, she lands on a ledge and is knocked unconscious. The next
morning, she wakes up and discovers to her horror that she is
sitting dangerously close to the edge of a fatal drop from the
Jim eventually discovers Jessica's horse, dead, some distance away.
He immediately begins calling and searching for her. Once he finds
her, he lowers his stockwhip and pulls her to safety. During this
time the two realize they have fallen in love, but that her father
will never approve of a relationship between them, despite that
Jessica only wants to be with Jim. Jessica tells Jim that her
father knows about the colt and the incident with the Brumbies,
that he's going to be fired when he returns. Jim tells her that he
was given a job and that he must finish it and then take her back
to her father. He then takes Jessica to Spur during the interim
while he gathers up the strays, where it is revealed to Jessica,
that Spur and Harrison are in fact estranged brothers.
Jim leaves Jessica in Spur's (her uncle's) care so he can take the
strays back to Harrison's station. Jessica stays with Spur, and
after supper he takes her home, arriving before Jim and
Harrison, when he returns from searching for Jessica, while
grateful to Jim for saving her, soon becomes angry again when he
learns of Jim's feelings for his daughter. He accuses Jim of not
being capable of giving Jessica the life she deserves, and orders
him off the property. When Jim returns to the bunk house to gather
his things, he and a drunken Curly and his mate get into a fight.
Jim cleans the two of them up and leaves. After Jim has left, a
bitter and jealous Curly and friend set the colt from Old Regret
loose. They intend for Harrison to believe Jim is responsible, and
that the colt was set free in retaliation for his being
While Spur is at the station, Jessica learns that Harrison hates
his brother because they were competing for the affections of the
same woman named Matilda many years earlier, Jessica's mother. At
one time during this scene, Harrison threatens Spur with "Get
out of here or I'll...
" to which Spur adds, "You'll what
... blow off the other one?
", slapping his leg indicating that
it was Harrison that was the responsible for Spur losing his
Later, Jim and Spur are camping out, sitting by a fire talking when
they are joined by Clancy, who tells them that someone let the colt
loose and that Jim was being blamed for it. At first, Jim refuses
to return to the station, bitter about Harrison's disdain for him.
Clancy, however, appeals to Jim's pride and sense of justice. The
best means of proving he wasn't responsible, Clancy believes, is to
help retrieve the colt. Jim at first maintains that helping
Harrison after suffering so many insults is too much to ask of a
man. Spur and Clancy cleverly tease Jim about whether or not he's
really a man, with Clancy claiming Harrison probably wouldn't let
him ride with them anyway. Realizing that the only way to prove
himself a man is to go on the muster, Jim agrees to go with Clancy
to Harrison's the next day.
Harrison is none too happy, though, to see Jim turn up on his
property next morning for the muster, and orders him removed.
Clancy steps in, however, saying that Jim and his horse "are both
mountain-bred and know the mountains" better than any of the other
riders there. This silences Harrison's protests, and the chase
commences. It ends for most of the group, however, when the mob
gallops down a steep hill. Even Clancy doesn't dare give chase, but
Jim, showing the mettle of a mountain man and the quality of his
mountain horse, plunges down the steep incline without pause. He
and Denny successfully negotiate the treacherous descent, and are
later spotted by Harrison's group, still chasing the Brumbies.
Then, Jim succeeds in what even Clancy was unable to manage - head
off the mob and stare down the old stallion. To everyone's
amazement, he drives the entire mob back to Harrison's station
Harrison offers Jim the 100 pounds in money he had promised to
anyone who could bring the colt safely home, but Jim retorts that
it's not the reason he rode, a reference to both his need to clear
his name and to his intentions to prove his maturity. He tells
Harrison that he'll be back to claim the horses in the mob, and
whatever else is his (looking at Jessica). To this, Harrison shouts
"You've got a long way to go yet lad.
". Spur interrupts
him, saying "He's not a lad, brother...he's a MAN.
as Jim tips his hat to Jessica and rides off, Clancy calls him
"The Man from Snowy River.
Jim rides up to his home in the Snowy River region, knowing that he
has earned his right to live there.
has confirmed that it
was definitely he who rode the horse over the side of the mountain
for the 'terrible descent' during the dangerous ride — commenting
that he had been asked about this numerous times, and that he
became known as "The Man from Snowy River" because of his
The Craigs' Hut building was a permanent fixture created for the
film. Located in Clear Hills, east of Mount Stirling, Victoria, the popular 4WD
and hiking landmark
was destroyed on 11 December 2006 in bushfires.
The hut has since been
The film "was released to a fair degree of critical acclaim, but
more importantly, moviegoers found it to be a likable and highly
entertaining piece of filmmaking that made no effort to hide its
Australian roots, despite the presence of American star Kirk
Douglas in one of the principal roles. " The film was has a rating
of 80% on film review aggregator Rotten
Awards and nominations
composed the music for
the film, a soundtrack that became one of the most critically
acclaimed in the history of motion pictures. He also composed the
music for the sequel.
2000 Summer Olympics — Bruce Rowland
composed a special Olympics version of "The Man from Snowy River"
Main Title for the Olympic Games, which were held in
- :NBC Sports uses some of the exact
music from the soundtrack for their coverage of The Players Championship.
The CD of the music for the Sydney Olympics
includes the Bruce Rowland's special Olympic version of "The Man
from Snowy River".
The Man from
Snowy River: Arena Spectacular
— Bruce Rowland composed special
arrangements of some of the film soundtrack music for the 2002
version of "The Man from
- "How The Hell Did We Get Here? — The Baby Boomers Guide To
- Sydney Morning Herald, 11 December 2006,
Bushfires ravage iconic Craig's Hut