Channel: Saturday 24 October, 5.45pm
After inheriting a cattle station, English aristocrat Nicole Kidman takes the scenic route to Faraway Downs, hooking up with Aboriginal boy Brandon Walters and manly drover Hugh Jackman along the way. The written prologue makes Australia’s Northern Territries in 1939 sound like feudal China. But Baz Luhrmann’s view of his homeland and its relationship with the Aborigine was always going to be an extravagant and personal affair.
And the most costly Australian movie ever made turns out to be Luhrmann’s tribute to two of Hollywood’s most enduring classics. Luhrmann’s reckless conceit is to filter his 1939 story through the two biggest hits of 1939: Australia is Gone With the Wind wafted in the direction of The Wizard of Oz. It’s an epic romantic fantasy told through the eyes of the boy.
That’s why he’s the narrator – it’s all a Dreaming, Aboriginal-style. If you can tune in to that, then Australia doesn’t seem quite so hokey, even though the corny plot is like some confounded combination of the 90s hit Far and Away (so far away, Nicole was still Mrs Tom Cruise), and the old Cary Grant wartime adventure Father Goose. It’s not boring, you have to give it that.
Just don’t expect any of the mystery and imagination of Picnic at Hanging Rock or Walkabout. Australia’s big happy ending comes after 85 minutes. Which is a shame, because there’s still more than an hour for things to turn sad. What’s really surprising, in a film that primps and preens and shouts out loud, is that the iconic title doesn’t carry a Moulin Rouge! exclamation.
|Other Showings||Date & Time|
|Film4||Friday, 30 October at 5:45PM|