Homestead warrior 

Over a cup of coffee, director Rob Sitch waxes philosophical about his first feature film, about success and humility, about his need for sentimental stories, and the Australian proverbial comic streak. The Castle, says Sitch, "is a comedy of lack of sophistication" about Daryl Kerrigan, an ordinary man who’s ready to go against the whole country just to be able to keep his home, for "a man’s home is his castle" and that’s worth a thousand deaths.

"Of course it’s funny. Tragic and funny. Comedy is never seen in a separate compartment in Australia – it’s part of everyday life, part of our government. Sure, the business of the country has to go on, but the people who get to the top usually have a sense of humor.

"Let me tell you a story which just sums up Australians. In wartime my father was a bomber and there was this huge bomber ride in the Pacific. They had American fighter pilots escorting them and there was total radio silence – if you broke radio silence you’d be court-martialed or even shot – and three hours into the mission an Australian pilot got on the intercom and went: ‘Hands up those with sore asses!’ That’s Australia for you. You can’t take yourself too seriously and, if you’re successful, you’d better not be happy with yourself because people will turn against you.

"Darryl succeeds in his quixotic enterprise, but there’s humility in his success. He keeps his home because Lawrence helps him. Lawrence is a retired lawyer, a man of enormous intelligence, wealth and sophistication, but when he comes up against Darryl’s humility, heart and helplessness, that’s a great humbling experience for him. It’s a wonderful relationship.

"So, with all these cultural differences, why did The Castle travel; why did it do so well at Sundance? I think it’s because audiences have a funny way of working things out and, also, an insatiable appetite for places around the world. And, maybe, for sentiment. In a dark theater, where no one can see them, people are not afraid to cry and open up to a sentimental story. I like sentiment. If you put it through a prism, you get a lot of colors."

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