Michael Kingley (Geoffrey Rush), a world-weary retired businessman, travels to Adelaide to vote as a director of the company he founded on the leasing of farming land in the Pilbara region to a mining company. His son-in-law, Malcolm Downer (Erik Thomson), is confident the board will approve the lease without a hitch as they are all, it would seem, on the same page. However, Michael starts to see things he at first can’t explain, and the vote is delayed a day when a storm unleashes its fury, wrecking the company's boardroom.
Malcolm travels to Sydney on urgent overnight business, leaving Michael to join his sixteen-year-old granddaughter Maddy (Morgana Davies) and spend time with her at the Downer family home. Maddy is angered by the company’s pending decision and its environmental impact. She directs her fury towards her father who supports the lease. To help repair Maddy's relationship with her father, Michael tells his granddaughter the story of his childhood, when as 'Storm Boy' (Finn Little), he lived a lonely existence with his father Hideaway Tom (Jai Courtney) in a small shack between Ninety Mile Beach and the Coorong in South Australia. Tom retreated to the coast after experiencing personal tragedy. He wanted to protect his son from a harsh and unforgiving world.
The Coorong has a bird breeding ground and a hunting area and one day, after befriending an Aboriginal man, Fingerbone Bill (Trevor Jamieson), Storm Boy rescues three pelican chicks whose mother has been killed by hunters. Storm Boy fiercely dedicates himself to rearing the weak and vulnerable animals, naming them Mr Proud, Mr Ponder and Mr Percival. The pelicans grow and Storm Boy reluctantly returns them to their breeding ground, so they can live in the wild, amongst their own kind. However, Mr Percival soon returns and the extraordinary bond between the two changes Michael’s life forever. A pending vote to turn the hunting ground into a bird sanctuary brings danger into their secluded world and when sudden tragedy strikes again, Storm Boy is pushed into the outside world. As Michael tells his story to Maddy, the reconnection with his past, as Storm Boy, brings him back to life and he makes a decision that will impact not just his future and that of his family, but the future of the precious world around him.
Storm Boy is recommended viewing for primary and secondary students in Years 5–9.
The film is relevant to units of work in the learning areas of English, Geography and Media Arts.
The Australian Curriculum: English is built around the three interrelated strands of Language, Literature and Literacy. Together the strands focus on developing students' knowledge, understanding and skills in listening, reading, viewing, speaking, writing and creating. In English, students engage with a variety of texts for enjoyment. They read and view, and also interpret and evaluate texts of personal, cultural, social and aesthetic value. Through engagement with texts, students learn about themselves, each other and the world. The activities within this study guide provide opportunities for students to:
- engage critically and imaginatively with a text to expand the scope of their experience;
- analyse the structure of a text and how the features of a text influence audience response;
- analyse the key ideas and issues explored in a text;
- consider how language can be used for aesthetic ends;
- develop and justify their own and other interpretations of a text;
- create a wide range of texts, make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions.
Media Arts The Australian Curriculum: Media Arts engages students in critical discussion of film and television works. They analyse, interpret, and evaluate the stylistic, technical, expressive and aesthetic features of these works and the ways that the works communicate and challenge ideas and meaning. As a classroom resource, Storm Boy is relevant to the teaching of how a film engages audiences, draws on codes and conventions, and constructs representations. The activities within this study guide provide opportunities for students to:
- understand the aesthetic, style and format of a film;
- use critical approaches to analyse and interpret a film;
- analyse the use of elements of media arts (technical and symbolic)
- analyse the use of story principles of structure, intent, characters, settings, points of view and genre conventions;
- understand how audiences participate in the construction of the meaning of a film and explain ways in which a film reinforces or challenges social, cultural and artistic values;
- use appropriate media terminology and personal interpretations to describe the structure, content and aesthetic qualities of a film.
Geography The Australian Curriculum: 0Geography empowers students to shape change for a socially just and sustainable future. Through a structured way of exploring, analysing and understanding the characteristics of the places that make up our world, Geography enables students to question why the world is the way it is, and reflect on their relationships with and responsibilities for that world. The activities within this study guide provide opportunities for students to:
- describe and explain geographical processes that influence the characteristics of places and how the places are perceived and valued differently;
- explain interconnections between people and places and environments and describe how these interconnections change places and environments.
Storm Boy provides an opportunity for teachers to develop cross-curriculum units in these learning areas. In addition, Storm Boy is a relevant resource to address the cross-curriculum priorities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures and Sustainability. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures priority provides opportunities for students to deepen their knowledge of Australia by engaging with the world’s oldest continuous living cultures. Through the Australian Curriculum, students will understand that contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are strong, resilient, rich and diverse. The Sustainability priority students develop the knowledge, skills, values and world views necessary to contribute to more sustainable patterns of living.