Sunday, December 28, 2008

AUSTRALIA - The Motion Picture

Whatever else you do or do not do - go to see this magnificent film about the Australian outback. The economic climate is a disaster all over the world and travel has turned into a nightmare, and yet, and yet, AUSTRALIA has natural scenes that will leave you gasping. Such is their unequaled beauty.

Nicole Kidman plays a toffy Englishwoman who comes to Australia to sell a vast piece of property. She finds adventure, romance and a new life instead. Hugh Jackman is the splendid drover who helps and loves her.

To me, the motion picture belongs to Brandon Walters, the young larger than life aboriginal who steals the entire movie from Kidman and Jackman. There is something awesome about all aborigines wherever they may be. They are musical, brave, wise, intelligent, discerning and tragic - all at the same time.

Australia's loss because of their forced assimilation and genocide of their aborigine/autocthonous population may never be fully known.

Other countries have meted out the same type of evil treatment - Spain, Portugal, Britain, Japan, Belgium, Holland, France, and let us never, never forget the United States.

Brandon Walters may have stolen the picture but Kidman's acting is superb. She forgot she was a statue and turned into a hot-blooded, passionate and courageous woman.

Jackman's portrayal of the drover is outstanding. There is something of the devil-may-care persona of Clark Gable in him. He does his best to suppress it but it emerges despite him.

There is an impressive chemistry between the three actors - Kidman, Jackman and Walters. It is said that some strong young actors can do that. The love scenes between Jackman and Kidman are tender and yet ardent. The most heart tugging, tear jerking scenes are the ones between Kidman and Walters and Jackman ad Walters.

The aborigine who plays his grandfather is also a force to be reckoned with. He unleashes terrible forces whenever his grandson is in danger. It is very believable for aborigines have powers we lost long ago or perhaps never had - except for a few of us who remained close to our emotions, our spirituality and our intuition.

I am puzzled over director Bazz Luhrman's choice of Over the Rainbow as one of the theme songs of the film. Why did he not ask one of the aborigines to compose a song or better still to sing their traditional songs? That would have made for an unforgettable film score.

Perhaps the aborigines refused? That's possible. Happily, Luhrman does include several bars of Waltzing Matilda throughout the film.

Over the Rainbow is a song that has been played to death; it has lost its poignancy. Not even scenes of Judy Garland singing the song in the Wizard of Oz are unable to dispel that sense of overkill.

Luhrman cannot ever leave well enough alone. He included this scene of Garland belting the song in the film.That's why I say that with all his talent Luhrman has not learned the art of what is relevant and vital to a movie and what is not.

I can tell he hasn't a clue about the aristocracy either, let alone the British one.

"Go to the cinema? Are you daft?"

The Theater, the Ballet and the Concerts, now that was something else again.

Cinema was for the masses not the classes.

But I am nitpicking.

The motion picture was a beautiful introduction to Australia. It is not the sweeping epic I expected.

Eisenstein, Leni Riefenstahl, David Selznick, Sergei Bondarchiuk, Andrei Tarkowsky and John Houston to name just a few giant directors of epics are dead. But Mel Gibson and Peter Jackson are very much with us.

An epic about Australia must begin with its aborigines for they are the ones who truly made the continent what it is. They survived every calamity including the white settlers and the apartheid policies of a white government. All the rest, the floating brothels which brought forced female settlers to the country and the convict ships which disgorged what to the English were the scum of the earth must follow.

If the financial backers truly want to see megabucks flow into the coffers of the film industry and more importantly the Tourism industry they should follow the no holds barred, tell the story outside the box philosophy of the director/producers I have named above.

Above all they must focus not only on the dialogue but on the musical score written by Australians, preferably aborigines. And Waltzing Matilda has to be in there somewhere or the initiative will fail.


  1. "I am puzzled over director Bazz Luhrman's choice of Over the Rainbow as one of the theme songs of the film"

    "Oz" is an affectionate nickname for Australia, a pun on the first syllable of "Aussie" (pronounced "Ozzie").

    "Above all they must focus not only on the dialogue but on the musical score written by Australians, preferably aborigines."

    It's already been done, to great effect, in "Ten Canoes":

  2. John,

    The motion picture Australia was the most expensive film ever made in that continent.

    Ten Canoes was a small budget film. Most of the world did not see it. It was not a commercial success outside of Australia.

    You might see connotations of Aussie into "Oz" as in The Wizard of Oz" but the story of Dorothy in the Land of Oz is the farthest thing to an Aussie. Indeed, some would say that it is full of satanic symbols.

    There is still no colossal epic about Australia which will sweep the audience in its grandeur.

  3. Oh yes, I quite agree that the land of the "Wizard of Oz" is antipathetic to Australia's national character, perhaps all the more so because (wry smile here) the "Wizard of Oz" has become a homosexual cult movie.

    (Monty Python sketch, set in a "university philosophy department" in the Australian Bush: "Faculty rule number one, NO POOFTERS!" ;-)

    As for satanic symbols in "Wizard of Oz", I never thought of it that way until now, but when I was a boy I DID find it very creepy. But I know very little about satanism and want to stay that way.

    But now as you've provoked me to think about it, based on what little I know about the demonic from a Catholic perspective, perhaps what is satanic in the Wizard of Oz is the "lesson" that "you are your own agent of your own salvation; your salvation resides entirely within yourself." Because that's contrary to the doctrine of Original Sin.

    So I imagine an Australian version of "Wizard of Oz" might go something like this:

    1. Dorothy's neighbour wouldn't confiscate Dorothy's dog; she would invite Dorothy's Aunt and Uncle over for a few coldies.

    2. When Dorothy meets the fortune-teller, she tells him, "You dress like a poof" and walks away.

    3. After Dorothy is swept up in the smoke of a bush-fire (instead of a tornado), she lands in Kiwi-Land, aka New Zealand, where people are very "small" in many ways. (Australians call Kiwis, "South-Sea Poms", the English of the South Seas. My Aussie wife tells me that the Kiwis are to Australians what Canadians are to Americans, and vice-versa.)

    4. Glinda, the "Good Witch" of the North, is now a Kiwi, the Politically Correct Witch of the South.

    5. In Kiwi-Land, Dorothy meets a Professor of Gender Studies from University of Auckland (someone with no brain, cf Scarecrow), a social worker for the Family Court (someone with no heart, cf Tin Man), and an Anglican Bishop (someone with no courage, cf the Cowardly Lion).

    6. The "Wicked Witch of the West" is actually Queen Elizabeth II, whom the Politically Correct Witch of the South wants to see dead.

    7. The Wizard of KiwiLand is England's Archbishop of Canterbury.

    8. Dorothy meets the Witch of the West (Queen Elizabeth) in her castle, and then has second thoughts about killing her, after she realises how she's been duped by the Politically Correct Witch of the South.

    9. Dorothy has common sense, so she just takes a boat back to Melbourne and then a train to her farm, and she arrives home on Australia Day (Jan 26, my birthday by the way), and when she reunites with her family, they say:

    10. YOU WERE AT THE PUB ALL NIGHT, weren't you!

    11. Dorothy replies, "There's no place like the pub, there's no place like the pub. And if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any farther than the nearest pub!"

    12. Dorothy becomes "persona non grata" in Canada, by order of Canada's "Human Rights Commission", after the Politically Correct Witch of the South lodges a criminal complaint with Interpol, to accuse Dorothy of the hate-crime of "insensitivity" against New Zealanders. And there is an Interpol warrant for Queen Elizabeth, too, co-signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.


Isabel Van Fechtmann

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