A Cry in the Dark (1988)

Meryl Streep in A Cry in the Dark (1988)

A Dingo Took Her Baby

It had been a long day doing the tourist thing at Ayers Rock, in the Australian outback and whilst her husband Michael (Sam Neill) chatted with new friends and cooked some food Lindy Chamberlain (Meryl Streep) put their baby daughter to sleep in the tent. Shortly after she sees a dingo in the tent and when she gets there the baby has gone and there is blood on the blanket. As the police arrive and look for their baby, Michael, a man of God, tries to rationalize why God would do this as their story becomes major news not just in Australia but around the world. But as the police goes over things they discover inconsistencies in Lindy's statement resulting in her being charged with murder and the press having a field day as they play on the public's split opinions over the case.

There are many random things from my childhood that I remember and one of those is as a 7 year old I remember on the news, here in the UK, hearing about a baby being taken by a dingo. I don't remember much more other than it took place in Australia and at the time there was plenty of speculation as to whether the baby's mother was actually guilty of murdering her own child and was using the dingo story to cover up. But for some reason I have always remembered that news item and ever since a few years later they made the movie "A Cry in the Dark" about it I have meant to watch it and now over a quarter of a century later I finally get around to it.

Sam Neill in A Cry in the Dark (1988)

Now "A Cry in the Dark" is simply a dramatization of the events which followed that night when Lindy and Michael's baby was stolen. We see how immediately after with the press interest in the case there were rumours and slanderous comments made about Lindy and what happened as the case divided public opinion. And then despite a judge declaring that their baby was taken by a dingo the press continued interest to prove Lindy guilty. I could go on but there is no need because this isn't a movie about the big drama but a look at what happened and what the Chamberlain family went through following that night at Ayres rock due to the hounding of the press.

What for me makes "A Cry in the Dark" such an interesting movie is the performance of Meryl Streep because it doesn't make an impact. What I mean is that Streep plays Lindy Chamberlain in such an everyday sort of way with no big scenes of emotion or scene stealing that it helps you forget you are watching a dramatization. It also leads you to feel for her and Michael as they face what comes across as a witch hunt by the press. And that in turn makes you intrigued by the inconsistencies in the information which becomes the basis of the trials.

What this all boils down to is that "A Cry in the Dark" is still a good movie all these years later as it retells what happened after the events at Ayres Rock, dramatization the court cases, the press's witch hunt and the divided opinion of the public when it came to what happened.