Libido (1973 film)

Libido is a 1973 Australian drama film comprising 4 segments written and directed as independent stories, but screened together as one piece, exploring a common theme of instinctive desire and contemporary sexuality.[2]

Directed byJohn B. Murray ("The Husband")
Tim Burstall ("The Child")
Fred Schepisi ("The Priest")
David Baker ("The Family Man")
Produced byChristopher Muir
John B. Murray
Written byCraig McGregor
("The Husband")
Hal Porter
("The Child")
Thomas Keneally
("The Priest")
David Williamson
("The Family Man")
StarringJudy Morris
Jack Thompson
Max Gillies
Robyn Nevin
Jill Forster
Elke Neidhardt
Music byTim Healey & Bill Green ("The Husband")
Peter Best ("The Child")
Bruce Smeaton ("The Priest" & "The Family Man")
CinematographyEric Lomas ("The Husband")
Robin Copping ("The Child")
Ian Baker ("The Priest")
Bruce McNaughten ("The Family Man")
Edited byTim Lewis ("The Husband")
David Bilcock Jnr ("The Child")
Brian Kavanagh ("The Priest")
Edward McQueen-Mason ("The Family Man")
Producers' & Directors' Guild of Australia
Distributed byBritish Empire Films (Aust)
Anglo-EMI (UK)
Release date
6 April 1973 (Australia)
1974 (UK)
Running time
118 mins

John B. Murray directs a segment called "The Husband", written by Craig McGregor, Tim Burstall directs "The Child", from a screenplay by Hal Porter, Fred Schepisi directs Thomas Keneally's "The Priest" and David Baker directs playwright David Williamson's screenplay for "The Family Man".[2][3]


The four segments of the film average about 30 minutes in length and are presented in the following order.[4]

  • Part 1: "The Husband" - Focuses on a suburban husband and wife, their relationship and their sexual fantasies.
  • Part 2: "The Child" - A lonely boy seeks revenge on a man he finds engaging in intercourse with his beloved governess.
  • Part 3: "The Priest" - A priest contemplates leaving the church as a result of his indefatigable attraction to a nun.
  • Part 4: "The Family Man" - The husband of a woman in labor arranges with a friend to take two women to a secluded beach house.


"The Husband"

  • Elke Neidhardt as Penelope
  • Bryon Williams as Jonathon
  • Mark Albiston as Harold

"The Child"

"The Priest"

"The Family Man"


The film arose from a series of workshops held in 1971 by the Victorian Branch of the Producers and Directors Guild to help writers work in narrative cinema. Professional writers were invited to prepare short stories on the theme of love which were adapted and produced by members of the Guild. Four of them were linked in the film.[1][5]

Tim Burstall wanted to direct the David Williamson segment but because he had worked with Williamson before was given the Hal Porter one, originally called The Jetty. Burstall made some key changes to the story to make it more autobiographical and work better for film.[6] It was shot at Werribee Park Estate in June 1972.[7]

All the stories were shot and filmed in and around Melbourne on 16mm for a budget of $100,000, including $26,000 from the Australian Council for the Arts. According to Burstall, the episodes directed by Murray, Baker and Schepisi cost about $7,000 each and his cost $13,000 - although he says the true cost, accounting for deferrals, was closer to $23,000. He says the total cost of shooting the film was $75,000 being $120,000 after deferrals.[6]

British Empire Films later added some funds to enable the film to be blown up to 35mm (some sources say $20,000[1] others $36,000[5]).


The film was a popular success in Australia and screened overseas. Within two years of the film's release all deferred fees had been paid back. However, when the film screened in Spain, the segment "The Priest" had to be cut.[5]

By 1979 Burstall estimated the film had returned between $60,000 and $75,000 to the producers. [6]


In 1973, the film won the Golden Reel Award for best fiction film from the Australian Film Institute for the segment The Child, and Judy Morris won the best actress award for her performance in the same segment.[8][9]

Proposed Sequel

Burstall said there was meant to be a follow up film called The Bed, consisting of four stories revolving around the bed, written by Alan Marshall, Morris Lurie, John Powers and Max Richards, to be directed by Mal Bryning, Ross Dimsey, Simon Wincer and Rod Kinnear. However, they could not raise the money to make it.[6]


  1. Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998 p270
  2. The Screen Australia Listing for Libido Archived 27 May 2007 at
  3. Jones, Dave (1 January 1974). "David Williamson". Cinema Papers. No. 1. p. 7-8.
  4. The Miles Ago database of Australian films
  5. John B. Murray, "The Genesis of Libido", Senses of Cinema, 5 March 2006 accessed 27 September 2012
  6. Scott Murray, 'Tim Burstall', Cinema Papers Sept-Oct 1979 p494
  7. David Stratton, The Last New Wave: The Australian Film Revival, Angus & Robertson, 1980 p27
  8. AFI Awards - Past Winners
  9. Awards summary at the Internet Movie Database
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