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Preview a segment from Fortress

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On a lazy day at Sunday flat in rugged mountain country in Northern Victoria, Sally Jones and her class are looking forward to the few remaining days to the end of term. Pleasant anticipation turns to stark horror as four grotesquely masked men descend on Sally and the children and whisk them away at gunpoint. A damp and dark cave becomes prison for Sally and her nine young charges until they manage to grope their way to freedom by way of an underwater exit. Their newfound freedom, however, is short-lived as their captors are waiting for them at a nearby farmhouse, where they have overpowered the old farmer and his wife. The comic masks of the kidnappers cannot hide their brutal nature as the children are manhandled and the old lady is viciously attacked. In protective defiance, the farmer puts up a brave struggle and is fatally shot. With blood on their hands, the gunmen lock Sally and the children in an old shed. A shotgun blast echoes through the stillness of the night. The old lady too, has been callously murdered. Now Sally has no illusions as to their probable fate. They must escape at any cost. Only one man has been left to guard them and the children devise a plan to lure him into the shed. Thanks to Narelle’s feminie charms and Sid’s piece of fencepost, they are soon free and run into the night. Stumbling and clawing their way forward with no sense of direction and ever fearful of the nearness of their oppressors, they at last find shelter…a cave to use as a makeshift camp. Hungry and frightened, they settle for an uneasy night. Morning brings the shock realisation that the kidnappers have found them. The taunting voices of their pursuers cut through the chill of early dawn. “We’re coming to get you!” With time running out, they must convert the cave into a fortress of sorts. A pooling if potential weapons sees a pathetic arsenal of penknives, sharpened pencils, scissors, a tomahawk…and a bayonet, which Derek fashions primitive spears from saplings. The older boys then busy themselves positioning the spears and the bottom of the ditch-moat in front of the cave. Leaves and branches provide camouflage. The unwelcome mat is ready for the kidnappers. Now, Sally and the children can only wait - and hope… When Narelle wanders from the cave, Sally makes a fanatic search for her. She is confronted by one of the gunmen and a desperate struggle develops. The kidnapper topples into the moat and meets an agonising death when spears impale him. Only the last and most feared of the abductors remains and the group readies itself for a final stand. On finding his accomplice dead, the man charges the cave in a rage, but is overpowered and beaten to death. Back in the familiar surrounds of the schoolhouse, Sally and the children are reticent to elaborate on their ordeal. The inquiring Police fail to notice the interest the pupils are showing in a jar of formaldehyde, containing a large bleached object. If one cannot understand the criminal mind, perhaps it is better to analyse his heart.

SALLY JONES … Rachel Ward
SID O’BRIEN … Sean Garlick
NARELLE … Rebecca Rigg
DEREK … Robin Mason
LEANNE … Beth Buchanan
SUE … Asher Keddie
RICHARD … Bradley Meehan
SARAH … Anna Crawford
TOBY … Richard Terrill

PUSSY CAT … David Bradshaw
DABBY DUCK … Vernon Wells
MAC THE MOUSE … Roger Stephen
MRS O’BRIEN … Elaine Cusick
MR O’BRIEN … Laurie Moran
OLD LADY … Wendy Playfair
OLD MAN … Ed Turley
DET.SGT.COTTER … Nick Waters
DET.SGT.MITCHELL … Terence Donovan

Produced in 1985
Executive Producers: Hector Crawford CBE, Ian Crawford & Terry Stapleton
Screenplay: Everett DeRoche
From the novel by: Gabrielle Lord
Director: Arch Nicholson
Producer: Raymond Menmuir
Associate Producer: Michael Lake

Shot on location in the Bainsdale area.
Some cave scenes were shot in the Buchan Caves. The fortress cave was constructed after failing to find a satisfactory location. It was built in the Grampians countryside - using 27 tonnes of scaffolding, 5 trucks of concrete, 3,500 metres of chicken wire, countless wooden boxes, 2,000 metres of hessian, 300 litres of paint, 1,000 metres of fencing wire and 12 drums of polyurethane. It took eight weeks with a crew of nine living in the bush working about 12 hours a day. Warner, the designer, also built a series of man-made interiors for the inside of the Fortress and two spectacular caves. These were built in a large warehouse outside Beveridge, Melbourne.


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