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Thursday 27 October 2005
Our own version of Dr Zhivago
Author: Brian Courtis
Publication: The Age (23,Thu 27 Oct 2005)
Keywords: human (1),rights (1)
PIONEERS OF LOVE (8.30pm, SBS)
IN THE first episode tonight of this quietly
seething two-part documentary, Storyline Australia demonstrates that
love can conquer all but racist bureaucrats. It also shows that love
can have a far greater long-term effect than even its original
players might have imagined.
Without wishing to wax too David-Lean lyrical here,
Pioneers of Love, the very real story of Russian immigrant Leandro
Illin and Aboriginal widow Kitty Clarke, could, in the right hands,
be an Australian Dr Zhivago. It speaks of hope, perseverance and the
But what really gets to you first about this
romance is the determination of Leandro Illin, the man who broke the
rules for love. It brought him hardships and tragedy, but he never
gave up. And that changed many lives.
Pioneers of Love, produced by Richard Dennison and
directed by Julie Nimmo, focuses on two strikingly different
partners while reflecting on the extraordinary historical events
that were taking place in the early years of last century.
The Illins, a family of odd Russian dissidents from
an aristocratic background, fled home to escape persecution, making
their way to far north Queensland. They worked land in the Atherton
rainforest and, alongside other Russian migrants, began setting up
what they hoped would be a utopian commune.
To the Queenslanders, the settlement became known
as "Little Siberia". But, as Bolshevik fears grew, the settlers had
little chance of finding paradise in Australia.
Like many others, the Illin family and the Russians
moved on with their idealism, eventually setting up shop somewhere
in South America. Leandro, however, was left behind. He had met
20-year-old Kitty Clarke when he was 28. She was a Ngadjon woman and
a mother of three. They had fallen in love, had a child, and, as the
law then required, he had applied to the protector of Aborigines for
permission to marry.
That was refused and police were ordered to
separate Kitty and the children from him. So Leandro took the family
away from their traditional land and, with Aboriginal help, set up
home in a remote part of the outback.
We get a rich impression of the couple from the
affectionate memories of their daughter Flora Hoolihan. Tragedy
followed. The Russian pioneer, however, continued to work hard for
the Aboriginal people and his message of "truth, justice and
equality" was passed on to his children and, in turn, to activist
Today, it seems, there are 200 descendants of
Leandro and Kitty. Many are community leaders, most fighters for human rights. In 1998, the Ngadjon people won
back the rights to their traditional land. Love wins through?
The Mole: The Amazing
Game 7.30pm, Seven
DIG in for more visual delights and dodgy
challenges in New Zealand as Tom Williams takes us into the final
stages of the TV reality-game show. The winner, all set to expose
that sabotaging Mole, has had the opportunity to notch up to
$500,000 in prize money.
The Surgeon 9.30pm, Ten
BEST episode so far of Ten's impressive, low-budget
medical drama. Dr Eve Agius (Justine Clarke) finds herself brought
to earth as she's forced to make decisions on a badly injured
pregnant patient. The final scenes are heart-rending.
Alias 10.30pm, Seven
WHAT more can we ask of Alias than to see Arvin
Sloane again being bad to the bone? Tonight's exhausting episode
offers that and a couple of other truly unexpected series shockers.
Rambaldi and producer J.J. Abrams have a lot to answer for . . .
Caption :PHOTO: Mixed fortunes: Leandro Illin,
Kitty Clarke and children.
Headline: Our own version of