Hollywood: Why cant we make movies like this anymore?
Released in 2008, (and directed by Moulin Rouge! director Baz Luhrmann) Australia is a beautiful film that somehow managed to slip under the public radar, and despite it’s high production values (130 million) never really got the respect [nor the attention] it deserved.
And what a shame that is because this movie is extraordinary. Combining a war movie with the western, romance, comedy and drama genres effortlessly, this movie is the closest Hollywood has come to a ‘Golden Age’ quality movie in decades. While some parts are predictable and easy to read, what makes this movie something special is that it never tries to be something that it’s not. Rather than resort to explicit sex, scenes of nudity, or graphic violence to win viewers..Australia is a wholesome, honest tale about corruption and prejudice during World War 2, that begins in 1939 and ends shortly after the Japanese bombing of Darwin in 1942. Because of the time period in which the movie takes place, allusions are made to important historical and cultural events of the time, including the attack on Pearl Harbor and even the release of The Wizard of Oz.
Infact, Oz fans may be surprised to find out that The Wizard of Oz plays a large part in telling the story behind Australia, as the film’s uplifting story about following your dreams, and traveling “over the rainbow” serve as an inspiration to Nullah, a mixed-race aboriginal boy who faces hardship and intense racism brought on by his heritage and ethnic background. Nullah is instantly captivated by “Over The Rainbow” and hints of the song can be heard throughout the movie’s 2 hour and 45 minute span, serving as a (at times) tear jerking nod towards Nullah’s ambitious dreams of one day being a man and following in the footsteps of his grandfather “King George”. The casting of a REAL Aborigine by Luhrmann was a genius move, and lends a feeling of authenticity to the overall story. While many directors would’ve cast a mixed-race boy from America, and taught him an Australian accent, Baz Luhrmann went the extra step in shooting on location/casting real Aborigines and the results pay off.
It is these little touches, and the wonderful script writing by Baz Luhrmann, Ronald Harwood, Stuart Beattie and Richard Flanagan that really makes this movie what it is. I could go on forever, and make an even longer review of this movie, but instead I will simply recommend that you watch this movie as soon as possible. While some modern audiences will dislike the movie’s serious tone and almost 3 hour run time, those who appreciate a well told story, and beautiful imagery will likely find this movie to be one of the most underrated and well done romance epics of 2008.
“Set in Australia on the brink of World War II, Lady Sarah Ashley, an English Aristocrat (Kidman), travels to the faraway continent where she has inherited a cattle ranch, owned by her late husband. When Australian cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn local known as The Drover (Jackman) to drive 2,000 head of cattle across hundreds of miles of the country’s most unforgiving land, only to still face the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese forces that had attacked Pearl Harbor. When tragedy strikes and Lady Sarah becomes unofficial guardian to a “half-caste” boy, the unlikely couple must come to terms with a prejudiced society, dishonorable business associates and the impending arrival of the Japanese.”