Australia: Movie Review
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What more could you ask for – talented A-list actors Hugh Jackman (recently nominated People's Sexiest Man Alive) and Nicole Kidman (who just happens to be Hugh's really good friend in real life) sharing the big screen in an complex adventure/love story set against the breathtaking Australian landscape during World War II?
If that combination doesn't breed a sense of nostalgia and awe, then director Baz Luhrmann has missed a shot at pure movie gold.
And gold it is! It is early days yet, but I tend to agree with Variety: This is one Oscar-worthy film. Don't be surprised if it doesn't get more than one nod on the ballot for the awards ceremony.
An uptight English aristocrat, Lady Sarah Ashley ( Nicole Kidman), travels to the outback of Australia in the late 1930s to finish where her husband left off by driving 1,500 of her Northern Territory cattle across Australia with the help of a cattleman named Drover (Hugh Jackman) to save her failing ranch. In the process, she learns to work the land and love it's people – those of the "Lost Generation," Aboriginal children who are taken from their parents and placed in missions facilities, and most particularly, her rough-around-the-edges lover Drover.
That brief synopsis might have you believe that Australia boils down to more than a drama with a gooey love story.
But with a gifted director at the helm who has an incredible knack for weaving together thematic and pictorial elements into a magical experience, it is almost hard to pigeon-hole Australia.
Yes, it is a love story, but it's so much broader than a Hollywoodized love of a man and a woman – it is about the love of family, the love of race and culture, the love of land and country.
And while it is an adventure picture through and through, there are definite elements of a Western thrown in – cattle, cowboys, and overcoming obstacles and stubborn independence.
There are even times when you feel a bit like you have crossed over into a National Geographic travel documentary, as the camera patriotically sweeps over the landscape and brings such great dignity and homage to the indigenous Aborigines, who play such a key role in this film.
And if I could be so bold to add in another genre, the war movie must be considered, since the backdrop is World War II, around the time of Pearl Harbor.
Adventure, Love Story, Western, Travelogue, War movie - there is something for every adult in this multi-layered drama. Plus, the themes of love, family, justice, culture, freeing the oppressed, greed, power, pride, patriotism are beautifully interlaced throughout, making this flick rich in meaning.
Now, several words of note to moviegoers. And I only say these because they will probably pop up within Christian circles and I would be remiss not to mention them.
First, sexual content is at a minimum. In fact, the one sex scene depicted in the film is tastefully done and doesn't show much. So you can breathe a sigh of relief.
Second, there is some colorful language in this movie, but it isn't the kind that would be particularly offensive to the American population (for instance, "bloody" is the word of choice). I personally think the language is appropriately reflective of that culture and the characters.
Third, there is an element of magic throughout the film, since much screen time is spent highlighting Aboriginal culture, which is grounded in pagan, naturistic rituals. Once again, I see this as a reflection of culture, a reflection of a sort of other-worldliness that makes this group distinctive and at the same time misunderstood and mistreated - two themes that are important to Australia. But for highly sensitive young persons who might be a little too curious about this kind of magic, perhaps as a Christian parent you might want to see it first and then decide for yourself.
Australia is truly an old-school style epic adventure that harkens back to the Golden Age of cinema, when movies were grand in scope, design and budget, the actors were valiant and beautiful, and the storyline was unforgettable. I highly recommend this film.
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