Plot of the Movie "Burned Bridge"

by Candice Coleman
Cate Blanchett is one of the stars of

Cate Blanchett is one of the stars of "Burned Bridge."

Brendon Thorne/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Released to DVD in 2003, the miniseries "Burned Bridge," or "Heartland" as it was known in some countries, stars Cate Blanchett, Wesley Patten and Bob Maza. "Burned Bridge" takes the viewer to Australia, where conflicts between the Australian government and indigenous Australian Aborigine culture have prevailed for centuries. Kate Woods directs "Burned Bridge" and writers include some of the miniseries' actors, including Ernie Dingo and Bob Maza. The miniseries originally debuted in 1994.


Cate Blanchett stars as Beth Ashton, a divorced radio talk show host who moves into a house she recently inherited. She finds herself involved with Vincent Burunga, played by Ernie Dingo, an Aborigine who serves as the police liaison officer on behalf of the Aborigine population. Several other characters appear, including a real estate agent who discovers that as a mixed-race child, he was stolen from his Aborigine family.


Racial tensions between the white and Aborigine populations simmer when locals discover an Aborigine girl's body in the woods. Her murder creates a racial divide that burns through the townspeople, the police force, the Aborigine community and between families. Throughout the series, Beth and Vincent's relationship develops into a romantic tie as they struggle to find the girl's killer. The girl's boyfriend remains in custody on little evidence, illuminating the flaws in the investigation's strategies.

Historic Significance

The Aborigine people of Australia exist in small tribes, surviving on hunting, gathering and fishing techniques. Prior to 1900, it was legal for Englishmen to kill Aborigine people. During the first half of the 20th century, children born to Aborigine mothers and white fathers were sometimes taken by force and raised in foster homes. Like the real estate agent in "Burned Bridge," these children were called the "Aboriginal stolen generation."

Themes and Issues in "Burned Bridge"

The many social problems of the Aborigine people appear in "Burned Bridge." Although Aboriginal people were granted the right to vote in 1972, many still face discrimination in the employment search, problems with alcoholism and dependence on welfare to survive. Many still do not have the same opportunities in education or health care as others dwelling in Australia. Although Australians now show more tolerance toward Australian Aborigines, many still work in the entertainment or tourism industries, selling Aborigine artwork or participating in tours.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

Photo Credits

  • Brendon Thorne/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images