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The Sentimental Bloke Film

Video clip synopsis – The classic 1919 silent movie The Sentimental Bloke is regarded as one of the greatest Australian films.
Year of production - 2004
Duration - 5min 0sec
Tags - icons, identity, language, larrikins, media, media text, slang, women, workforce, writers, see all tags


The Sentimental Bloke Film

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About the Video Clip


The Sentimental Bloke is an episode of the series National Treasures produced in 2004.

The Sentimental Bloke
The classic 1919 silent movie The Sentimental Bloke is regarded as one of the greatest Australian films.

National Treasures
Take a road-trip of discovery with the irrepressible Warren Brown – political cartoonist, columnist and history “tragic” – as he reveals a fascinating mix of national treasures drawn from public and private collections across Australia. On its own, each treasure is a priceless snapshot of an historic moment. Together, they illustrate the vitality and uniqueness of the Australian experience.

National Treasures is a Film Australia National Interest Program. Produced with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Curriculum Focus


Through responding to and composing a wide range of texts in context and through close study of texts, students will develop skills, knowledge and understanding in order to speak, listen, read, write, view and represent.

Outcome 4: A student selects and uses language forms and features, and structures of texts according to different purposes, audiences and contexts, and describes and explains their effects on meaning.
Outcome 5: A student transfers understanding of language concepts into new and different contexts.
Outcome 8: A student investigates the relationships between and among texts.
Outcome 9: A student demonstrates understanding of the ways texts reflect personal and public worlds.
Outcome 10: A student questions, challenges and evaluates cultural assumptions in texts and their effects on meaning.

This material is an extract. Teachers and students should consult the Board of Studies website for more information.

Background Information


The Sentimental Bloke (1919) is an Australian silent film based on the 1915 Australian book The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke by C.J. Dennis.

The 'sentimental bloke’ is a Melbourne larrikin, who vows to abandon his life of gambling and drinking when he falls in love with Doreen, who works in a pickle factory. In the book we also meet Ginger Mick, the Bloke’s mate. The narrative poems in the book describe various episodes and incidents in the group’s lives and relationships. One story is based around the Bloke and Doreen going to a play, Romeo and Juliet, with Doreen identifying with the romance, while the Bloke admires the fight scenes more:

Nex’ minnit there’s a reel ole ding-dong go -—
'Arf round or so.
Mick Curio, 'e gets it in the neck,
“Ar rats!” 'e sez, an’ passes in 'is check.

Quite natchril, Romeo gits wet as 'ell.
“It’s me or you!” 'e 'owls, an’ wiv a yell,
Plunks Tyball through the gizzard wiv 'is sword,
'Ow I ongcored!
“Put in the boot!” I sez. “Put in the boot!”
“'Ush!” sez Doreen . . . “Shame!” sez some silly coot.

The poems are written in the vernacular of the street gangs and working class of the day, and can be very difficult for students to understand without translations.

The film was made by Raymond Longford and Lottie Lyell, at the time best-known partnership in Australian cinema, and was filmed mainly in the inner city Sydney suburb of Woolloomooloo.

The Sentimental Bloke uses intertitles taken from the original poem written in Australian slang and was a hit when it opened in Melbourne, breaking all existing box office records. It was also popular in Britain and New Zealand, but did not succeed in the US, where test audiences failed to understand the language.

The film was rediscovered in the 1950s and a new print screened at the Sydney Film Festival in 1955. Longford was found to be working as a night watchman on the Sydney wharfs.

Since then the original negative sent to the US was discovered and found to be of a better quality print than any of the Australian copies. The new version premiered at the 2004 Sydney Film Festival and has played at the 2005 London Film Festival.

Classroom Activities

  1. Understanding the video clip.
    1. Who is the Sentimental Bloke?
    2. What is the story that is presented in the film?
    3. What happened to the original film?
    4. Where was the film finally found?
    5. What had the Americans done to change it?
    6. How were people able to reconstruct the original film?
  2. Exploring issues raised in the video clip
    The Sentimental Bloke is written in the slang of the working class of the first 20 years of the twentieth century.
    1. Look at the slang. Translate it, and present a short piece in modern English. Read both versions aloud. What is gained, and what is lost in this ‘translation’?
    2. Research the use of slang today for a particular group.
    3. Discuss the use of SMS text language today. Is it influencing language?
    4. What other influences are there on Australian language today? What are the main influences? Are they desirable? Should they be controlled? Can they be?

Further Resources


For more National Treasures information and video clips go to the Investigating National Treasures website