Baz Luhrmann’s Australia which hits the DVD shelves today was dubbed ‘The Antipodean Gone With the Wind’ by the critics (when they weren’t busy panning it) probably because it’s both a larger-than-life romantic fantasy and a lush OTT homage to Baz’s homeland. Starring Baz’s famous countrymen Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, the plot (in a rather large nutshell) goes something like this:
Nicole’s uptight English aristocrat arrives at her husband’s broken-down Outback cattle station Faraway Downs courtesy of Hugh’s hot, sweaty and roughly sexy drover called, um, Drover. She finds her husband has been murdered and then has to save the station and the mixed-race Aboriginal lad Nullah (played with a commendable lack of cute kid syndrome by newcomer Brandon Walters ) with Hugh’s reluctant help.
Cue a life-changing cattle drive through lots of spellbinding scenery with Nic falling for Hugh, Hugh falling for Nic, Nic falling for Little Nullah, Nic falling for the strange alien beauty of the Australian landscape, Nullah falling for Hugh and Nic and the song Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and… Well, you get the picture, it’s all one big love-in with Judy Garland bells on by the time they reach Darwin.
But that’s not all…
In the movie’s three-hour plus running time, Luhrmann also throws in the Japanese bombing of Darwin, David Gulpilil’s clairvoyant medicine man, a Wizard of Oz motif (geddit?), Bryan Brown’s greedy cattle baron, David Wenham’s irredeemable rotter, a thundering stampede, Tara-style sunsets galore, the tragedy of Australia’s Stolen Generation of Aboriginal children, vicious racism, raw courage, fire, brimstone, torrential rainstorms, Hugh in a tux, Hugh on a horse, Hugh by a campfire, etc, etc, etc. Phew! It’s exhausting.
Okay, I’ll admit it, if you’re looking for restrained, subtle, intellectually challenging, historically accurate and politically balanced period drama you’ll want to give Australia a fairly wide berth.
But if, on the other hand, you don’t mind your movies just that teensiest, weensiest bit over the the top, you love looking at Australia’s wide open spaces and/or you’re looking for a great girls night in movie (and you’re particularly partial to Hugh and his abs) then you can’t go wrong with this chick flick with empire-building ambitions.
We featured it as a Guilty Pleasure movie and now you know why.