A sweeping historical epic, Australia is a chick flick with a capital ‘C.’ Though for the first little while of it’s monumental two and three quarter hour runtime, it did behave a little schizophrenic, not knowing whether it was going to be a serious drama or a slightly camp, cheesy comedy drama. Fortunately Australia finds it’s groove and heads down the serious drama with a huge hit of romance road, creating what could be described as McCleod’s Daughters meets Gone with the Wind.
Not being a fan of either McCleod’s or Gone, I was sitting squarely outside the intended demographic on this one, but found myself engrossed in the storyline (once the movie had decided what direction it was taking) and didn’t find any parts of the movie that should have been relegated to the cutting room floor.
Unlike an action movie, Australia was about the people and their stories, in fact having stories to tell was an integral part of the movie’s theme, suggesting that all that is worth caring about in this life is the story of our life. In another schizophrenic moment, Australia decides to be a political statement, trying to encompass Australia’s Stolen Generation with some heavy-handed statements right after the final scene. Sadly this was a tad redundant as the movie had done a great job of giving the viewer a pretty decent overview of the situation, with an overlying theme of what ownership really entails and how we have to let things go before our grip on them destroys what they are.
Visually Australia is simply stunning, with the outback turning in an amazing performance as a backdrop to the story unfolding on the screen. The scenes at Darwin when the Japanese attack were visually dynamic and as good as any recent war movie and added some respite from the romance.
Racism is proved unfounded and the church redeems itself through the acts of a brave few, but in the end it’s all about two people and our inability to allow ourselves to be vulnerable so that we can be loved.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read.
I guess “He” is right when he says this is a chick flick. Although, if you decided not to view it because of that comment, you’d be missing out on what is one of the best films to come out in recent years. Australia is definitely not something you could class as movie fluff, and has a more serious tale to tell, one that must be heard/seen.
I really enjoyed the romance, the drama, and the way in which all of the characters grew throughout the entire film. All of them begin the story, somewhat frozen in their experience of life into becoming very strong individuals. The real message at the centre of the film was that we cannot truly “own” other people no matter how much we love them. We cannot control others behaviours, we can only control our own. The whole “setting the bird free and if it comes back it was always yours” is evident here. I liked Kidman’s character as she grew from a controlling wife and then widow into becoming a strong character in her own right, able to stand on her own letting “her bird’s” free to go out into the world.
Another strong theme, and running parallel to the above theme, was that of the aboriginal rite of passage, the walkabout. Throughout the film this was compared to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and her desire to get home. Dreams are thought of as highly important and I loved the way Luhrmann was able to really show the powerful nature of aboriginal indigenous ways. It is a mistake to feel that we “whites” have all the answers, in fact we could learn a lot from the indigenous cultures of this world. Do we have any right to try and cover over their ways with our own?
The movie was truly epic in scope but then Australia as a nation is truly epic. The length of the movie, at almost 3 hours, was not a problem, as I got truly lost in the story. I highly recommend viewing this film, not only because of it’s important messages about freedom, but because it is a fantastic panorama of history and drama. Well worth the watch.
Reviewed by: Dione Read.
Rating: M – contains violence & offensive language.
Duration: 165 mins.
Genre: Adventure, Drama, War.
Director: Baz Luhrmann.
Actors: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, David Wenham, Bryan Brown, Jack Thompson.
Release Date: 26 December, 2008.