TaglineThe true story of the Granville train disaster.
My part in the movie the day of the roses
The Day of the Roses is a two-part Australian television mini-series, a docu-drama directed by Peter Fisk, based on the events of the 1977 Granville railway disaster. The film was made in 1998 and runs over 3.5 hours.
The film starts at an anniversary commemoration of the crash, where roses are dropped on the track to the aftermath of the wreck where first responders are arriving at the scene. Five months later the coroner, Tom Weir, brings in Boris Osman, an engineer to help him investigate the crash and immediately runs into stonewalling by the state-owned rail company, who don’t want him to examine the train. Osman thinks it’s because the investigation will have to disclose why the tracks that caused the wreck were in such bad shape. Osman thinks it was caused by the politicians in office allowing the rail system to deteriorate. The coroner learns the bridge was hit twice before. Pressure begins to be brought on the coroner from above to stop asking to look at the train. Osman learns this is the third time this locomotive went off the rails. The coroner uses the threat of contempt of court to force the rail company to let Osman examine the locomotive. The inquest begins, with Orman recounting how the tragedy happened on 18 January 1977, alternating with the stories of some passengers who traveled on the ill-fated train, leading up to the depiction of the accident. Due to worn out track and worn out wheels on the locomotive, it jumps the rails and hits a bridge support, causing it to collapse on the train. The community springs into action to aid the survivors and recover the 83 dead. Several of the rescuers testify at the inquest and recount their actions on the day of the accident. Many rescuers risk their own lives to save the injured. Even when ordered to leave due to the danger of further collapse, many refuse to abandon injured survivors. Many of the rescuers are traumatized by what they saw. Ormond comes under attack for saying that it was the condition of the locomotive’s wheels that contributed to the accident, since while money has been allocated to repair the tracks, there is no money to also repair the locomotives. The families of the dead try to cope, while Gerry Buchtman, who went to Granville while on sick leave from his emergency responder job has to fight to keep his job, since the powers that be want to fire him for doing just that. In spite of pressure, the coroner finds that the locomotive’s condition contributed to the accident. Osman later learns that even though the rail company knew this type of locomotive was dangerous due to a derailment 11 months before Granville, they took no steps to lower the speed on this line because it came from an electoral district that often decided national elections and the government did not want to anger the voters by making their train late. We return to the memorial service, while on screen captions tell us what happened to some of the people involved in the crash and the investigation.
Rebecca Gibney- Margaret Warby
Paul Mercurio- Bryan Gordon
Helen Dallimore- Annette Gordon
Stephen Curry- Rescuer
Jeremy Sims- Gerry Buchtmann
Peter O'Brien- Boris Osman
Gigi Edgley- Erica Watson
Heather Mitchell- Margaret Shuttler
Eugene Gilfedder- Mr Ward
John Bach- Tom Weir
Chris Betts- Sgt. Merv Masterson
Aaron Blabey- Dr White
Carol Burns - Greta
Cormac Costello- Michael "Scotty" McInally
Damian Pike- Constable Garry Raymond
Wayne Pygram- Sgt. Joe Beecroft
Georgina Symes- Debbie Skow
Steven Vidler- Dick Lamb
Bill Young- Inspector Ray Williams
Chris Haywood- Informer
Andrew McFarlane- Public Servant
Robert Coleby- Station Officer
The Day of the Roses was released on DVD by Umbrella Entertainment in July 2010.