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.
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.
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.
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