DirectorBaz Luhrmann
Running Time165 mins
StarringNicole Kidman
Hugh Jackman
Bryan Brown

This is a highly idiosyncratic film, as you would expect from Baz Luhrman. It is a strange film to classify;it is an adult themed storyline with some very cartoonish - Dr Seuss Like - effects that pull the film into some highly unexpected directions. The characters do feel like caricatures and they feel stilted and overacting - although this may have been the intention all along - it is hard to tell. It does feel highly 'contrived' throughout. Subtlety is not the watchword with this film. It hits you over the head again and again to point out the various story-telling devices and sharp turns.

This is not to say that the film is without merits. Some of its innovative camera and CGI work is very impressive indeed. I think that the opening sequence included in the video below highlight the best and the worst of the film; it has great effects with some decidedly caricaturish acting. The film does grow on you though as it continues - possibly as it gains in gravitas and leaves the cartoonish sequences behind. It tries to tell the tale of an Aristocratic English lady who heads to the Northern Territories to sort out the affairs of her husband who she discovers is murdered by a business rival. She takes on responsibility for the farm and the cattle-drive and also for the real star of the film, an aboriginal half-caste called Nullah. Nullah provides the narrative for the story but has to play out his own identity issues as the film tries to bring to the viewers' attention about the forced adoptions of aboriginal children until the very recent past.

The film has several false downs when you think that it is over - only for a new plot line to develop. It is all set out on the eve of World War Two and eventually reaches its crescendo with the Japanese bombardment of Darwin. The film does of course take the same kinds of liberties with history as the film Pearl Harbor did - in fact the scenes of the attack on Darwin were very similar in texture to the Pearl Harbor film. I suppose, Baz Luhrman was trying to bring the impact of the war on the mainland of Australia to a wider audience who were perhaps unaware of the reach of the Japanese onslaught. However, the film suggests that the Japanese landed on the outer islands of Darwin which just wasn't true. I'm not sure why real history had to be so twisted to fit the storyline. It is not as if it was essential to the storyline - there were plenty of other ways for the characters to demonstrate their attachment to Nullah without having to invent a Japanese invasion of Australia!

In summary, this is a flawed film but it is still an entertaining one. Don't expect to learn anything about Australia or its history, but you can expect to see some interesting special effects and watch an unfolding love story unfold gently before your eyes.

Darwin Motherless Beavers
Lady Sarah Ashley
Drover Stampede

Buy this DVD at: Amazon

Media | Silver Screen

Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames

by Stephen Luscombe