Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Two reasons why you should see Australia, the movie

Tonight the family finally went to see Australia, the movie. Even though it is late, I thought that I should record our reactions.

We actually went to see it with a degree of caution, one of those things that as Australians we thought that we should do. I, for one, had really wanted to go, but was then put off by some of the commentary.

Our reactions?

Wife and eldest daughter absolutely loved it. Youngest and I had reservations, but were still swept along.

Nearly every criticism of the movie is justified in some way.

It is too long. It tells the story not of Australia, but of one slice of Australia at a point in time. It is not historically accurate. Some of the acting is wooden. There are too many cliches.

This must sound devastating. Why, then, should you see it? In saying this I am thinking not just of Australians, but of people around the world. There are two main reasons.

First, it is visually stunning. Some of the scenes are quite spectacular.

Secondly, in spots it is very exciting, in others very moving. As an example, the cattle stampede was the most nerve racking, the best, I have ever seen. And the final scenes set during the bombing of Darwin reduced this family, and most of the audience, to something approaching tears.

Do not go to this movie expecting the greatest movie you have ever seen. It is not. But if you go accepting and expecting the weaknesses, you are likely to find that you will be carried along and come out with a movie experience that you will remember.

To put this in perspective, we went to see the latest James Bond movie some time ago because we wanted to. We saw Australia because we felt we should.

We enjoyed the Bond movie, but it just passed. Indeed, what was its name? We will remember Australia.

International audiences are in fact likely to enjoy Australia more than Australian audiences because they can see it just as a story without the intellectual and emotional baggage that Australians apply to the film.

Do see it if you get a chance and let me know what you think.

Postscript

Dinner last night with some old friends, where the conversation turned to Australia, the movie.

Like Winton Bates in the comments, Debbie thought that it was really several stories loosely joined. There was also discussion on the stolen generations issue in the film, and some of the stereotyping of views.

However, one comment from Debbie captured, I think, the crux of Australia, the film. All those who have seen it agree that it is a flawed film. Despite that, Debbie has found herself talking about it it more than most movies she has seen. This family is exactly the same.

The movie is opening in Indonesia. Both Aldhis and Niar indicated in comments that they planned to see it. I am going to be very interested (if a little nervous) to hear their comments.

6 comments:

Aldhis said...

Hi Jim! The movie has just been launched in Indonesia. Reading your post makes me want to watch it!
I wonder about the beautiful scenery (and of course the stamped). But I like your line that you watch it because you felt you should.

Happy New Year and all the best for 2009!
Thank you for being Stories of Picture friend throughout 2008!
I hope we will see each other again in 2009!

Jim Belshaw said...

Do see it Aldhis, and post your reactions. But just think of it as a story in the first instance.

I am sure that our two blogs will continue to interact over 2009!

Winton Bates said...

Hi Jim
My reaction was similar to your own.
I didn't enjoy the first half hour at all. It was just too corny. But it did get better.
Instead of one story there seemed to be two or three stories cobbled together.
The title of the movie is pretentious. I don't think this movie captures the mythology of our heritage nearly as well as, for example, the film "Galippoli" did.
However, some of the scenery was magnificent. Our Nicole's acting wasn't as bad as some people are saying. After all, she was playing the part of a English lady.
I also feel that this is a movie experience that I will remember.
Happy New Year!

Jim Belshaw said...

Happy new year, Winton.

Based on the reports, I went expecting Nicole to be dreadful. She was not - all the female members of my family wanted to see more of her riding, knocking the pants of the drover, so to speak.

It would not have taken much to link the stories. A little better writing, a little more control.

But it was still a great movie. I hope that Aldhis does see it - I would be very interested in a reaction from another culture.

niar said...

At the first time I see the advertising of this movie, I wondered why, this movie is given a title australia. It has make me curious about the content of this movie. This movie has just advertised in most of Indonesian theater. I am interesting with it, and want to watch it soon.

Jim Belshaw said...

I hope that you find it interesting, Niar. I will be very interested to see what you think.