Bangkok Hilton

T Tan

Australian Revival Cinema Assignment

Release: 1989 in Austalia on 5th November.
              1990 in UK on 20th April
              1991 in USA on 9th October
               2004 in Hungary on 29th November (re-release)

Awards: 1989 nominated AFI Award- Best Lead Actress in a Telefeature (Nicole             
              1990 won Logie- Most Popular Actress in a Miniseries/Telemovie (Nicole
                       Sliver Logie- Most Outstanding Actress (Nicole Kidman)                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Production Company: Kennedy Miller Productions

Distributors: Atlantic Films

Filming Locations: Sydney, New South Wales
                                Balmain High School,
                               Kennedy Miller Studios,
                               The Metro theater,
                               Water board Facility, Waterloo
                               Bangkok, Thailand
                               Bangkok International Airport,
                               Royal Orchard Sheraton Hotel  
                               Goa, India
                               Cidade de Goa Resort Hotel, Vainguinim Beach
                               Goa Airport, Dabolim
                               Hotel Palacia de Goa

                               London, England, UK

Runtime:  Australia 270mins / Sweden 251mins / USA 240mins  

Certification:  Australia: M
Writing Credits: Terry Hayes, Ken Cameron and Tony Morphett

Music: Graeme Revell

Production Designer: Owen Williams

Costume Designer: Glenys Jackson

Casting: Alison Barette

Screenplay: Terry Hayes

Cinematography: Geoff Burton

Produced: Terry Hayes, Doug Mitchell, and George Miller

Production Management
Associate Producer and Production Manager: Barbara Gibbs
Production Manager: Yeti Jindal (India) and Santa Pestonji (Thailand)
Unit Manager: Justin Plummer

Director: Ken Cameron

Assistant Directors
First Assistant Director: Keith Heygate
Second Assistant Director: P.J.Voeten
Third Assistant Director: Maria Phillips

Film Editing: Henry Dangar, Marcus D’Arcy, Louise Innes and Frans Vandanburg



Katrina Stanton: Nicole Kidman
Hal Stranton: Denholm Elliott
Richard Carlisle: Hugo Weaving
Mandy Engels: Joy Smithers
George McNair: Norman Kaye
Arkie Ragan: Jerome Ehlers
Billy Engels: Noah Taylor
Lady Faulkner: Gerda Nicolson
James Stranton: Lewis Fiander
Detective King: Richard Carter
Major Sara: Tan Chandraviroj
Catherine Faulkner: Jody Morris


Online Presence

Information I was found was from the International Movie Database and Wikipedia, which seem to prove to be the most helpful site for gathering information on this film. IMDB has provided the most information than the other sites which were lacking in information and very repetitive. It was easy to locate and provides me with most of the detailed information that helped me with the assignment. Unfortunately imdb did not have any information about box office figures or production circumstances for Bangkok Hilton and I was still unable to locate this information anywhere else.


Bibliography for Reviews


Bibliography for Interviews


Tara Brown


Feature in TV WEEK as the nations most popular miniseries and telemovie in 1990


* Situate the film in relation to Australian cinema as a particular type of film and as belonging to a genre or genres.

My Review

The basis of Bangkok Hilton is a story about a young Australian woman whose life has been turned up side down when she meets a man, while in search of her father and she falls in love.

The story starts out with Hal Stranton when he was in the army and was a prisoner of war. He was dishonorably discharged and was a shame to his father and family. He leaves and travels the world and finally ends up in Australia, where he gets a job in a Lawyers firm. This is where he meets Lady Faulkner’s daughter and falls head over heads in love with her. Catherine was born in a rich family and was like a prisoner with no say to her decisions in life. They were forced to be apart when it was in the newspaper headlines that he was dishonorably this charged. Hal was given the impression that Catherine was upset with him and never wanted to see him again because she was lied to.   Catherine on the other hand was forced and brainwashed that Hal was not a good person and he did not care about her. This shows how money and power was always associated together and if one should fall from grace would never be worthy again. Even in olden western cultures, the rich were every much in keeping it in the family and would do any thing to save the family reputation.
Hal disappears and never remarries out of disappointment. Catherine on the other hand, falls pregnant and keeps her baby but she never remarries. Katrina Stranton, Catherine’s daughter, slowly grows older and she wonders about her father. She asks about him only the have Lady Faulken being sarcastic and spiteful towards Catherine.
In Katrina’s later years, Catherine is seen to act exactly like her own mother, the very exact image putting her own daughter in the very position she was when she was a young women. Catherine is diagnosed with cancer and entrust her family lawyer to take care of Katrina when she is gone.
When her mother finally dies, Katrina finds a dairy and learns a bit about her father from what was last entered in the dairy. She goes to the family lawyer for help and together, she places the pieces together and decides to go on a search for her father. She heads down to England to see her father’s brother, where she learns that an allowance is given to him through a company in Bangkok. In the tour agency, she meets Arkie Ragan, who was very helpful and friendly. From there, Katrina when on her first date and fell in love. Arkie and Katrina left to India and was presented a camera in a large camera case as a gift from Arkie. In India, Katrina insisted to take a flight to Bangkok to look for her father. She met up with the lawyer in Bangkok and asked him to ask if her father would see her. She decided to leave Bangkok and head home after the rejection but not knowing that in the camera case, Arkie had hidden drugs, Katrina was caught at the airport with 8 kilos of heroin and Arkie disappears without a trace. She faces the reality of the Prison life in Bangkok’s prison.


Critical Reviews

This mini series, telemovie has gain quite a bit of attention. Many people are drawn into the storyline. Australians and non-Australians tend to place themselves in Kartina Stanton’s position. They feel her pain and understand her predicaments. This causes a sense of eagerness to see and know what is going to happen next. Almost all the reviews state how captivating the show is. This sad, thrilling and hopeful tale, has fadeout ending which makes it a bit of a let down. The fact that Thailand is so strict with drugs, you feel a real empathy and sympathy toward the innocent and naive Katerina. Applauses for Nicole Kidman’s role in the movie. Beats some multi- million budget movie, a must watch. The  negative side is the music used for Bangkok Hilton, just did not cut it for me in this movie. Bangkok Hilton has never been officially released in the U.S. on any home video format. It is available on both DVD and VHS in the United Kingdom and it also comes in a Korean version.

Other works

Ken Cameron

Won 1 award and had 4 nominations, directed in The Alice, White Collar Blue,  Takes Two, My brother Jack, A Person of Interest, Secret Men’s Business, Stingers, Miracle at Midnight, Payback, Dalva, Bordertown, Oldest Living Confederate Widw Tells All, Joh’s Jury, Seven Deadly Sins, Brides of Christ, Police Rescue, Police Crop: The Winchester Conspiracy, The Clean Machine, The Good Wife, Fast Talking, Crime of the Decade, Monkey Grip, Temperament, Unsuited and Out of It.
Wrote, More Winners: The Journey, The Cleaning Machine, Fast Talking, On the Loose, Monkey Grip, Temperament Unsuited and Out of It. Acted in WillFull


Terry Hayes

Won 2 award and had 6nominations, produced Mr Reliable, Flirting, Dead Calm, Fragments of War: The Story of Damien Parer, The Clean Machine, The Dirtywater Dynasty, The Year My Voice Broke, Vietnam, The Riddle of the Stinson, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Bodyline, Cowra Breakout, The Dismissal. Wrote, From Hell, Vertical Limits, Payback, Mr Reliable, Dead Calm, The Clean Machine, The Dirtywater Dynasty, Vietnam, Bodyline, The Dismissal, Mad Max 2


Nicole Kidman

Won an Oscar, have another 32 wins and 45 nominations, also acted in Australia, Need, His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass, The Invasion, Margot at the Wedding, Happy Feet, Fur: An Imaginary Portait of Diana Arbus, Bewitch, The Interpreter, Birth, The Stepford Wives, Cold Mountain, The Human Stain, Dogville, The Hours, Birthday Girl, The Others, Moulin Rouge, Eyes Wide Shut, Practical Magic, The Peacemaker, The Leading Man, The Portrait of a Lady, Batman Forever, To Die For, My Life, Malice, Far and Away, Billy Bathgate, Flirting, Days of Thunder, Dead Calm, Emerald City, the Year My Voice Broke, Vietnam, The Bit Part, Watch the Shadows Dance, Australiana a Roma. Un’, Room to Move, Windrider, Archer, Wills & Burke. Five Mile Creek, Winners, A Country Practice, Mathew and Son, Bush Christmas, BMX Bandits, Skin Deep and Chase Through the Night. Did the soundtrack of Happy Feet, Birthday Girl, The Others and Moulin Rouge and produced In the Cut


Huge Weaving

Won 12 awards and had 10 nominations, he also acted in The Key Man, Tranformers, The Girl Who Swallowed Bees, Little Fish, V for Vendatta, Peaches, Everything Goes, The Lord of the Rings: The Return Of the King, The Matrix Revolutions, After the Deluge, Enter the Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, Horseplay, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Russian Doll, The Old Man Who Reads Love Stories, The Magic Pudding, Strange Planet, Little Echo Lost, The Matrix, Bedrooms and Hallways, The Interview, The Kiss, True Love and Chaos, Isnt it Romantic, Frontier, Naked: Stories Of Men, Wild Australia: The Edge, The Bite, Bordertown, Exile, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, What’s Going on, Frank?, Frauds, Reckless Kelly, Seven Deadly Sins, The Custodian, Road to Alice, Proof, Almost,  Dadah is Death, The Dirtwater Dynasty, The Right Hand Man, Melba, For Love Alone, Sky Pirates, Bodyline, The City’s Edge and Maybe This Time. He produced Russian Doll and did the soundtrack The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Geoff Burton
Won 4 awards and 3 nominations, also was the cinematographer in Lucky Miles, Hell Has Harbour Views, After the Deluge, Blindman’s Bluff, Without Warning, Sick Puppy, Paws, Wanted, The Hostages, Reprisal, Brilliant Lies, The Beast, Whipping Boy, Hotel Sorrento, The Sum of Us, Sirens, Frauds, The Nostradamus Kid, Riding The Tiger, Garbo, Flirting, Ava, The Last Crop, Romero, Shadow of the Cobra, Something IsOut There, Emma: Queen of the South Seas, Radio Redfern, The Year My Voice Broke, Vietnam, The Time Guardian, I Own The Racecourse, A Street to Die, I Can’t Get Started, The Boy Who Had Everything, Cowra Breakout, Lawrence of Arabia: Master Illusionist, The Wind of Jarrah, Midnite Spares, Stir, The Girl Who Met  Simone de Beauvoir in Paris, The Eleven Powers, Blue Fin, The Last Tasmanian, The Sound of Love, Harness Fever, The Picture Show Man, Stormy Boy, The Fourth Wish, Sunday Too Far Away, They Don’t Clap Losers and Ben Hall. He also director Mohammad Hossain’s Intensive Care, Australians At War, Sydney: A Story of a City, Aftershocks, The Sum of Us, Radio Redfern, Lawrence of Arabia: Master Illusionist and he wrote Mohammad Hossain’s Intensive Care and Australians at War.

Place In Australian Cinema

After two years, this, for the first time ever, Bangkwang, Thailand’s notorious prision was open to the western world through the eyes of the camera. Better known as Bangkok Hilton, where the Thais call farang (westerners) heaven, it holds life and death row prisoners. Bangkok Hilton was made in the 1980s was mini series or telemovie release in Australia in 1989. in 1990, it was featured in TV Week as the Nations most popular mini series or telemovie. It may not have generated much of a tidal wave internationally but those who have seen it, agree that with more backing power, this would have more potential. Bangkok Hilton is considered a drama in it’s genre as firstly it is a mini TV series and there were the difficulties, typical kind of dramas and the role of the legal system.  More specifically Bangkok Hilton is so dramatically base on family and how much it means.  I think that Bangkok Hilton can be how much more comparative to most of the monopolization of Hollywood cinema films.   

Bibliography and Links

All the information I collected on the film came from the following websites: