A Czech immigrant to Australia must overcome bigotry and licensing laws to fulfill his dreams. [Dir: George Miller/ Michael York, Sigrid Thornton, Don Barker/ 115 min/ Drama, Romance/ Pro-Immigration, Anti-Regulation]
At the end of World War II, many Eastern Europeans fled to the West. The Iron Curtain was beginning to come down, and ending up on the wrong side of it meant never seeing freedom again. That’s the concern of the Czech doctor at the center of this film.
As the war ends, he manages to get to the West, but being Czech means getting sent back to Czechoslovakia by the Allied authorities. So he adopts a fake identity in order to be accepted as a “displaced person” and allowed to emigrate. He goes to Australia, hoping to start a new life there. Since he lied in order to get out of Europe, he must be careful to hide his medical knowledge so that no one will detect his true past. He’s careful, but not careful enough.
He gets a job in a logging operation, where his extraordinary handiness with first aid soon comes to the attention of the local (monopoly) doctor, who threatens to have him arrested for practicing medicine without a license if he continues to treat the injuries of his coworkers. That would also mean dredging up his past and therefore possible deportation. The matter soon comes to a head when a major logging accident occurs and he is the only one who can save the victims. Should he obey the law and let the men die? Or should he save them, and be charged with practicing medicine without a license?
The dilemma is played out to good effect, although licensing is merely put in a bad light, not challenged as such. The film also gets points for its favorable attitude toward the free movement of people, and toward tolerance of different kinds of people. It even has a minor anti-tax theme.
In artistic terms, this is a typical made-for-TV movie. The script stretches credulity at times, and, reflecting its original miniseries format, it’s a bit too long for its content. Nonetheless, it’s worth watching and it does make several points of interest to libertarians.