Australia Movie Review
Australia is a movie as big and broad as the continent it is named after. The movie is an action adventure epic with romantic development. The film is directed by Baz Luhrmann. He is a visual director and continues in that light with this film. The film is magnificent in scope and follows the tradition of John Ford. Luhrmann uses the harshness of landscape as another player to drive the action. It is a well researched time piece set in Australia at the onset of World War II.
Plot: Nicole Kidman plays Lady Sarah Ashley who comes to Australia to check on her husband and property, a sprawling cattle ranch. Ashley is as tight as her outfits as she arrives in Australia. Hugh Jackman, the "Drover," has been sent by her husband to escort her to the ranch. Jackman is well known for his portrayal of "Wolverine" in the X-Men trilogy. The English Aristocrat and the rough and tumble Drover could not be more opposite at their journey starts.
Complications abound in their travels and travails. Besides the beautiful and unforgiving terrain, they face the attempts of King Carney (Byron Brown) to stop them and force sale of the ranch to him. His hired gun is played by David Wenham as the villain, Neil Fletcher. After the murder Ashley's husband, she finds that Fletcher has been stealing cattle and fires him. Drover reluctantly joins forces with Lady Ashley and a motley crew of servants and a drunkard Kipling Flynn (Jack Thompson). Their quest is to save the ranch by driving the cattle down to Darwin for sale to the British Armed Forces.
A critical sub-plot involves Aboriginal religion and culture, the dream state which is felt in sequences throughout the film. Two main characters are involved in its portrayal. The young aboriginal half breed, Nullah, played by Brandon Walters, is both narrator and fellow traveler. He travels with Ashley and Drover on their journey in the real world. Nullah is also the connection to the aboriginal dream world. His grandfather, the Aboriginal holy man or shaman, King George is played by David Gulpell. King George and the ancient magic provide an intriguing addition to the main plot.
Australia is a beautiful movie, respecting older movie traditions, but seen through the lens of modern movie making technology. It is a great escape movie that places the viewer in the harsh environment of the continent at a critical time in world history. Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman and Brandon Walters are brilliant in their portrayals of the main characters. The movie is almost three hours in length, but the action, romance, plot turns and landscape make the journey well worth watching.
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