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The Getting of Wisdom (film)

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Title: The Getting of Wisdom (film)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 1977 in film, Phillip Adams, Bruce Beresford, Kerry Armstrong, Australian New Wave, 1977 in Australia, List of film director and actor collaborations, Candy Raymond, Susannah Fowle, Taking It All In
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Getting of Wisdom (film)

For 1910 novel, see The Getting of Wisdom.

The Getting of Wisdom
File:The Getting of Wisdom FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by Bruce Beresford
Produced by Phillip Adams
Written by Eleanor Witcombe
Based on novel by Henry Handel Richardson
Starring Susannah Fowle
Hilary Ryan
Barry Humphries
Cinematography Donald McAlpine
Editing by William M. Anderson
Studio Southern Cross Films
Distributed by Roadshow
Release date(s) 15 June 1977
Running time 101 minutes
Country Australia
Language English
Budget A$525,000[1]
Box office A$982,000

The Getting of Wisdom is a 1977[2] Australian film directed by Bruce Beresford and based on the 1910 novel by the same name by Henry Handel Richardson.

The film is set in 1890s Victoria, when Laura (Susannah Fowle) enters an exclusive Melbourne ladies' college based on Presbyterian Ladies' College. The film follows her struggle for acceptance, conformity, romance, friendship and achievement over the next four years. The lesbian overtones between two school girls are obvious in the film, more so than in Richardson’s novel.

It also starred Barry Humphries, John Waters and Terence Donovan, and featured early career appearances by Kerry Armstrong, Sigrid Thornton, Noni Hazlehurst, Maggie Kirkpatrick and Julia Blake.

A musical theme runs through the story, with piano works by Beethoven, Schubert and Thalberg played by Sarah Grunstein.


Laura Rambotham is sent to attend boarding school in Melbourne at the turn of the century. During her second year she tells everyone about a made up romance between herself and the school's minister, Reverend Shepherd. She forms an attachment with an older girl, Evelyn. When Evelyn leaves, Laura throws herself into her studies and wins the school literary and music prizes.



Bruce Beresford wanted to make the film after The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972) and tried to get finance from Reg Grundy. Grundy said he would think about it if Beresford made a McKenzie sequel. Beresford made Barry McKenzie Holds His Own (1974) but Grundy declined to make Wisdom.[3]

The film was the first production from the newly formed Victorian Film Corporation, who provided $100,000 with additional funding from the Australian Film Commission and the Nine Network. Six thousand girls were interviewed for the school pupil roles. It was shot at the Methodist Ladies' College and in the town of Eddington in January and February 1977.[1]

Box office

The Getting of Wisdom grossed $982,000 at the box office in Australia,[4] which is equivalent to $4,517,200 in 2009 dollars.


The Getting of Wisdom was nominated for 5 AFI Awards in 1978 and won in the Best Adapted Screenplay (Eleanor Witcombe) category.

See also


Further reading

External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • The Getting of Wisdom at the Australian screen
  • at Oz Movies
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