Monday, December 1, 2008

Film Review: Australia

Baz Luhrmann, Director & Co-wrote Screenplay
Filmed in Australia [Northern Territory]

by Eric Green

Every time you're about to give up on this over 2-½ hour film, Brandon Walters comes back into the scene.

In fact, the more the film goes on about the state supported racism against Aboriginal descent peoples, the more my mind went back to the criminal and socio-economic-political implications brought on to the USA by chattel slavery. And, in fact, both Australia and the US are and will continue to live with those affects for decades to come.

In wasn't until 1973, that the official banishing of 'mix-caste' Australians was ended by government decree. And, not until the new government of Kevin Rudd, who voted out the right-winger John Howard from the Prime Minister position, that a formal apology was given to the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.

And, as you watch the film develop with its inter and intra family entanglements between Australians and people of Aboriginal descent, the USA, the South in the most extreme, but, taking place elsewhere, comes to mind again. As in the USA, no one escapes in Australia.

Another historical fact that Luhrmann brings forward is the attack that Imperial Japan made on the Northern Territory of Australia. After leaving Pearl Harbor, the planes hit Australia. The scenes devoted to that episode are quite vivid. How many people are aware of that?

Oh Yes the Film's Plot

With those two epoch events in Australia guiding the film, Luhrmann co-wrote a screenplay love and adventure story, which also gave insights into the rough, and tumble life that Australians live in the Northern Country and other Back Country parts.

Choosing Nicole Kidman reminded of her previous selection by mega filmmaker, Anthony Minghella, for his epic Civil War film "Cold Mountain." That film also attempted to bring many new revelations concerning the USA Civil War into the public eye. I think that film worked, also.

Kidman played an aristocratic type of woman there also; as she does here. There she was a southern belle, here an actual English heiress. If it were not for her being cast in other less type casted roles, being type casted in these upper class roles could be a problem for her, but alas, that is not her problem. While being born in Hawaii, she is Australian "born and bred." In fact, if readers are interested in probably her best role, be sure to see her in the 1992 Australian film, "Flirting."

Hugh Jackman, a well know USA Broadway performer and actor; and also known for his work in England, was born in the same place as Luhrmann; Sydney, New South Wales. He plays Kidman's love interest, Drover, as an old fashion cattle and horse drover. In fact, Luhrmann must have been a fan or had a lot interest in the cinematography of Old West black and white and very wide angle cinemascope filming in the USA West.

Many of his close ups, and there were constant close ups, of Kidman and Jackman, seemed to be taken out of that Old West Genre.

The bad guys, played by Bryan Brown and David Wenham, did not disappoint in those roles.

This is really a homegrown Australian film, by Australians who care.

But, it is Brandon Walters as Nullah that the makes the film a must see. If you don't go expecting too much, you'll enjoy the film; especially its historical aspects.