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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


Outcomes from this digital resource
Students will:

  • learn about the significance of The Sentimental Bloke to Australian film history
  • learn about the production conventions and codes of early Australian films
  • research how language evolves over time
  • research the influences on modern Australian English
  • write in different genres and using modern text types
  • produce a short film

Viewing and creating texts about The Sentimental Bloke, students will have the opportunity to explicitly develop and demonstrate their knowledge and abilities in terms of:

Affective objectives

  • enjoying: experiencing and expressing thoughts and emotional reactions
  • engaging: participating effectively in activities that involve connecting with people, feelings, places, ideas, issues and events
  • relating: respecting and valuing cultural similarities and differences
  • appreciating: valuing the world(s) in which they live in order to understand better the world of others
  • playing: experimenting with the flexible nature of language, exploring its possibilities, and creating desired effects

Knowledge and control of texts in their contexts

  • making meaning in texts, taking account of how language and meaning are shaped by cultural purposes, genres and register variables

Knowledge and control of textual features

  • choosing textual features from different language systems and operating these systems interactively
  • considering and selecting vocabulary, including figurative language
  • experimenting with visual, auditory and digital features, using them in combination as appropriate in written, spoken/signed and multimodal texts to make meaning
  • making use of a range of spoken/signed and non-verbal features

Knowledge and application of the constructedness of texts

  • exploring ways that cultural assumptions, values, beliefs and attitudes underpin texts
  • choosing ways to represent concepts, and the relationships and identities of individuals, groups, times and places
  • considering ways that readers, viewers or listeners are invited to take up positions in relation to texts or parts of texts, and making decisions about which reading position to adopt

This is an extract only. Teachers and students should consult Queensland Curriculum: Learning, Teaching and Assessment for updated curriculum 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 are main differences in the style of production of the film compared to contemporary film production?
    4. Why are the producers of the The Bloke regarded as significant in the history of Australian film culture?
    5. What happened to the original film?
    6. Where was the film finally found?
    7. What had the Americans done to change it? Why do you think they did this?
    8. How were people able to reconstruct the original film?
    9. Do you agree with the iconic status awarded to this particular 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. Write a short love poem using SMS text language. Extension: create film images to match the poem.
    5. What other influences are there on Australian language today? What are the main influences? Are they desirable? Should they be controlled? Can they be?
    6. What other Australian film could be described as iconic? What would you like to see preserved forever? Explain and justify your choices. Compare your choices with other students: why are they similar or different?

Further Resources


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