FILM: Patrick White’s The Eye of the Storm

by |July 21, 2011

FILM: The Eye of the Storm

Directed by Fred Schepisi

In a Sydney suburb, two nurses, a housekeeper and a solicitor attend to Elizabeth Hunter as her expatriate son and daughter convene at her deathbed. In dying, as in living, Mrs Hunter remains a formidable force on those around her. It is via Mrs Hunter’s authority over living that her household and children vicariously face death and struggle to give consequence to life.

Estranged from a mother who was never capable of loving them Sir Basil, a famous but struggling actor in London and Dorothy, an impecunious French princess, attempt to reconcile with her. In doing so they are reduced from states of worldly sophistication to floundering adolescence.

The children unite in a common goal – to leave Australia with their vast inheritance. Moving through Sydney’s social scene, they search for a way to fulfil their desire. Using the reluctant services of their family lawyer Arnold Wyburd, a man long in love with Mrs Hunter, they scheme to place their mother in a society nursing home to expedite her demise.

Panic sets in as the staff sense the impending end of their eccentric world. Mrs Hunter confesses her profound disappointment at failing to recreate the state of humility and grace she experienced when caught in the eye of a cyclone fifteen years earlier.

For the first time in their lives, the meaning of compassion takes the children by surprise. During a ferocious storm Mrs Hunter finally dies, not through a withdrawal of will but by an assertion of it. In the process of dying she re-lives her experience in the cyclone. Standing on a beach, she is calm and serene as devastation surrounds her.


Charlotte Rampling – Mrs Hunter; Judy Davis – Dorothy; Geoffrey Rush – Basil; Alexandra Schepisi – Flora; John Gaden – Arnold Wyburd; Helen Morse – Lotte; Colin Friels – Athol Shreve; Robyn Nevin – Lal

In cinemas around Australia from September 15.

To view a higher quality trailer go to : The Eye of the Storm Trailer from Greg Read on Vimeo.

BOOK: The Eye of the Storm

by Patrick White

Elizabeth Hunter, an ex-socialite, has a mystical experience during a summer storm which transforms all her relationships: her existence becomes charged with a meaning which communicates itself to those around her. From this simple scenario Patrick White unfurls a monumental exploration of the tides of love and hate, comedy and tragedy, impotence and longing that fester within family relationships.

In the Sydney suburb of Centennial Park, three nurses, a housekeeper and a solicitor attend to Elizabeth as her son and daughter convene at her deathbed. But, in death as in life, Elizabeth remains a destructive force on those who surround her.

THE EYE OF THE STORM is a savage exploration of family relationships – and the sharp undercurrents of love and hate, comedy and tragedy, which define them.

Click here to buy yourself a copy of The Eye of the Storm

AUTHOR: Patrick White was born in England in 1912. He was taken to Australia (where his father owned a sheep farm) when he was six months old, but educated in England, at Cheltenham College and King’s College, Cambridge. He settled in London, where he wrote several unpublished novels, then served in the RAF during the Second World War. He returned after the war to Australia, where he became the most considerable figure in modern Australian literature before being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973. His position as a man of letters was controversial, provoked by his unpredictable public statements and his belief that it is eccentric individuals who offer the only hope of salvation. Technically brilliant, he is one modern novelist to whom the oft-abused epithet ‘visionary’ can safely be applied. He died in September 1990.

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

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  • July 21, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Almost all of Patrick White’s novels are available in print editions from Random House Australia including; The Aunt’s Story, Riders in the Chariot, The Solid Mandala, Voss, The Tree of Man, Twyborn Affair and A Fringe of Leaves.
    And all of Patrick White’s novels are available as ebooks from Random House Australia.
    David Marr’s brilliant Patrick White: A Life and Patrick White: Letters are also available.
    Next April a Patrick White novel not previously published The Hanging Garden will be released.

  • July 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Why do you write: “Naturally, very few of Patrick White’s novels are in print”. Do you really think it is natural? Doesn’t anyone else love his novels? I live in France, and I would love to re-read lots of them.

  • Mike

    July 21, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    The official website for Fred Schepisi’s “The Eye of the Storm” has HD trailers as well as behind the scenes info on the making of the film.

  • Lynne Transue

    July 22, 2011 at 7:57 am

    See official website here:

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