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Bert Deling is “a bit surprised at the size of the fuss” being made about the DVD release of his 1975 film, Pure Shit, and feels it has achieved some kind of legendary status even though very few people have actually seen it, he tells Andrew L. Urban.

In 1975 even the title had to be hidden, represented as Pure S, or in the braver, edgier media like Rolling Stone, as Pure Sh*t. That says much about the times, and why some in the media called it an evil film. How badly the film was misunderstood was driven home by it being banned. The irony today is laughable.

“It was a time,” recalls Bert Deling, “when they were proclaiming that if you smoke marihuana your legs’ll fall off. We wanted to make a film that said we understand what we’re talking about and if you go down the drug path this is how you’ll end up – on heroin. It had only just started to spread and very few people were doing it. It was hard to get … they had to break into chemists.

“Us middle class hippies though there were good drugs and bad drugs and wanted to show that…but they banned it, then unbanned it and it got an R rating.”

Bert, now living in a country town, is especially pleased about the DVD because “Martin Armiger’s music, which you barely hear, is terrific and they’re releasing it as a CD – it’s terrific rock n’ roll and he wrote 11 songs!”

"a personal interest"

‘They’ is the distribution company, Beyond Home Entertainment, whose Neil Foley has championed Pure Shit “with extraordinary energy and enthusiasm,” says Bert. “He’s taken a personal interest in it.” The film was also one of the 50 Australian features restored and digitised in the Kodak/Atlab assisted project of the National Film and Sound Archives.

“There were only two 16mm prints and they’d been worn out,” says Bert. “In 1976 it played two weeks at Melbourne’s Playbox and had a short Sydney run … but very few people got to see it, and we didn’t make a cent from it.”

But Pure Shit got Bert “completely addicted to filmmaking, and he made lifelong friends with many of the cast and crew, notably cinematographer Tom Cowan and editor John Scott.

Published May 14, 2009

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Bert Deling


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