Mike (11-year-old Greg Rowe) is a lonely boy living in a coastal wildlife sanctuary amid the Coorong sandhills of South Australia with his reclusive father, “Hide-Away” Tom (Peter Cummins).
In search of friendship, he encounters a young outcast Aboriginal man called Fingerbone Bill (David Gulpilil) and the two form a bond in the care of orphaned pelicans – particularly one Mike names “Mr Percival”.
The realisation that the relationship between the boy and the bird can’t last forever makes for a heartfelt conclusion.
The three pelicans who played Mr Proud, Mr Ponder and Mr Percival in the film were raised from chicks by a dolphin trainer called Gordon Noble. The production couldn’t hire a pelican trainer because there were none – pelicans had never been trained for a film before.
The Disney-style family film was produced by the South Australian Film Corporation based on a 1964 children’s book of the same name by Colin Thiele.
The movie won the Australian Film Institute award for best film of the year. It also took first prize in the children’s film competition at the 1977 Moscow Film Festival.
It sold to 100 countries and grossed over $2.5 million in Australia alone.
Mike ‘Storm Boy’ Kingley
Tom ‘Hide-Away Tom’ Kingley