A review of the movie ‘Australia’.

Australia: a straightforward story?

First I must warn you that if you are a highbrow film buff looking for a film with depth 'Australia' is not the film for you. It is not in the least bit challenging, is possibly somewhat predictable and is certainly not high art.

This is not necessarily a bad thing although the Mills & Boon-style story of a romance between a stuck-up English lady and a bit of rough from the Australian outback can take a little bearing with at first.

This, it could be argued, is not so much the fault of the story as the unusual acting capabilities, or lack thereof, of the pulchritudinous and impossibly slender Ms Kidman.

Her portrayal of an autocratic but spirited lady from the British aristocracy put me in mind of my granddaughters playing the same role, all nose in the air, petulant stamping and swishing of riding crops (fortunately imaginary in my granddaughters’ case).

Although the start of this film seemed somewhat naive I did find I eventually got sucked in by the story and could ignore the overblown acting. As with anything about human beings struggling against the odds, I just had to watch to see if they would succeed in their endeavours.

Undeniably beautiful ... but can Ms Kidman act?
Undeniably beautiful ... but can Ms Kidman act? | Source
That great Australian hunk, Mr Hugh Jackman.
That great Australian hunk, Mr Hugh Jackman. | Source
Aborigine child and adult.
Aborigine child and adult. | Source
Australian outback at dawn.
Australian outback at dawn. | Source
Ranch hand waiting to drive.
Ranch hand waiting to drive. | Source
Driving longhorn cattle.
Driving longhorn cattle. | Source

A tangled storyline attempting worthiness.

The movie 'Australia' is not all it seems on the surface. Whilst basically it is the usual drover meets English snob love story with a few obligatory baddies thrown in, the sub-plot strives for a gravitas it doesn't quite pull off.

The film has pretensions towards social comment by introducing the aboriginal element, specifically a captivating Aborigine boy, to highlight the story of the 'stolen children' as they are now called.

Who are the stolen children of Australia?

To put it simply this was the enforced removal of half-caste, and even full-blood, Aboriginal children from their parents between 1869 and 1969 (and possibly even as late as the 1970's) to be placed in care, usually with 'Christian' establishments.

This was done under a legal Act, ostensibly for the good of the child. The white settlers, assuming they knew best on the subject of child-rearing and in total ignorance of the aboriginal way of life, felt that the culture of care given to Aboriginal children by their parents was lacking.

These well-meaning Christian worthies of the time were implacable in the removal of these children, despite the overwhelming distress this arrogant attitude caused the parents and children.

In reality these children, if they did not manage to escape such ‘kindness’ and return home to live in hiding, became institutionalised and, once they had grown to an early maturity, they were then deemed fit to become servants to the white people.

The film Rabbit-Proof Fence highlights the plight of these children in greater depth and perhaps with more accuracy and many Australian Prime Ministers have apologised for the actions of their forebears since this hideously misguided Act was repealed.

So what is the plot of Australia?

Set around the early years of the Second World War the story opens as a hoity-toity English aristocratic lady (Ms Kidman) heads to Australia to give her perceived errant English aristocratic husband, who is in the unlikely position of running a cattle ranch in the Outback, a piece of her mind.

It would appear to be a piece she can ill-afford to spare but she is a headstrong miss and apparently she rides rather well. On arrival in Australia, and towing a shed-load of what we can all see is totally unnecessary baggage with her, she finds her poor hubby has been murdered.

On the face of it the murderer would seem to be the local Aborigine medicine man and one finds oneself hoping that in this enlightened age of political correctness he is innocent.

Having already made the acquaintance of the local brawler cum friend of the Aborigines, the meltingly adorable Mr Jackman, the lady promptly hires him to help her drive her dead husband's cattle to Darwin to sell them to the army to feed the troops. There is a war on, soldiers need feeding and there is the inevitable deadline to meet.

Various hangers-on, namely an alcoholic accountant, (don't ask) and the enchanting native boy-child busily hiding from the authorities who want to put him into Christian care, are also enlisted for this cattle drive.

It turns out to be a very eventful journey as they race to get the cattle to the port on time despite skulduggery, stampede and romantic entanglement.

It would be wrong of me to give any more of the plot away for those hopeless romantics out there who want to see the movie, so it will suffice to say that the main thread of the story is about the growing attraction between the principal characters with all the pitfalls brought on by the qualities of wilfulness and independence.

Throw in the heart-rending struggle of a cute child attempting to avoid the would-be do-gooders, a powerful enemy in the shape of a ruthless cattle baron and his desperately amoral lieutenant and the Japanese air attack on Darwin for good measure and you've got the whole gamut.

Will you watch ‘Australia'?

  • Yes
  • No
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Should you see the movie ‘Australia’?

If it's a wet day, if you don't have a drain to clean out, if you feel like a bit of escapism, sure, go ahead.

It'll entertain you once you get past Ms Kidman's acting, and a bit of romance, however predictable, is always good for our cynical souls.

Okay, so there is little explicit sex or gory violence and explosions are limited but all that goes to show is that this movie may be predictable ... but it isn't that predictable.

Am I being entirely fair?I guess you’ll just have to watch it and see.

2 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of for this movie.

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Comments 10 comments

Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

Angie, I adored the film for all the wrong reasons. I drove across the Nullabor Plain with two friends in 1964 and fell in love with the outback; the red earth/sand, the most amazingly beautiful sunsets and sunrises and the wildlife.

Imagine driving along what could never be called a road, just a dirt track in spinafex with a huge kangaroo just bounding along beside the car at the same speed.

I know the storyline of 'Australia' was transparent, but it grabbed me, and I lived in Perth, West Australia when Aborigines were not even allowed in the City of Perth.

I taught two Aborigine boys, one was a brilliant scholar, and other was an amazing athlete. But gentle, kind, lovely boys.

Shit! I know how badly the whites treated those poor people... even writing this now, I have tears in my eyes.

Ian


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Didn't mean to bring back painful memories, TL ... sorry. I just knew this piece would draw you in. I have to admit that despite everything I did lose myself in this film and really enjoyed it. Because it was an adventure story the time seemed to fly by so this critique is really a bit nitpicky of me.

And I have heard many people say how charismatic the outback is so I'm willing to be convinced.

Thanks for your comment ... it's always good to know you are lurking about out there. x


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

Oh Yes! I lurk very well.

And they were lovely memories as well, Angie.

x


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Glad to hear it, our kid.


Karolinee 4 years ago

Fantastic hub, looking forward to come back and see your new posts. Thank you.

My art gallery http://www.karoline-art.com


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Thanks for the kind comment, Karolinee ... must have a peek at your art.


cfin profile image

cfin 4 years ago from The World we live in

Great hub. A disgrace how the natives were treated, and ethnic cleansing would probably sum it up. I still have to check out this movie. Rabbit proof fence is also worth taking a look at. :)


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Thanks for commenting, cfin …

I have seen Rabbit Proof Fence and got through a whole box of tissues. I was so burning mad that I wanted to go straight over to Australia and give someone a piece of my mind. Just two problems a) the incidents outlined are historic and b) I haven’t got much mind to spare anymore!

I don’t know that it was so much ethnic ‘cleansing' as ethnic 'tidying up and making into suitable servants for the ‘cultured’ white man’. Same old arrogance really.


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 4 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

Still lurking and wondering how this very entertaining and cleverly hub hasn't attracted more notice.

Lots of love and admiration ,

Ian

x


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hello old bean! Me too :))))

Seriously … I think there are just too many people scribbling away on the internet now and they are more interested in getting their writing read than reading. It had to come.

Hope you are feeling better, m’dear. Much love. x

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