Sunday, September 05, 2010

Sunday Snippets - NZ earthquakes, Tomorrow when the War began, wild weather

My father was born in New Zealand's Christchurch and I have visited the city many times. The news of the major earthquake there therefore had particular resonance.

In visiting NZ I have always been conscious of the earthquake risk. In 1931, my aunt was teaching at a small one teacher school. She was away for the weekend when an earthquake dumped tons of rubble on the farm house where she had been staying; everyone inside was killed.

Reading the reports, my main feeling was one of relief that, despite the damage, no-one was killed.

Corrie and Ellie Thursday night to celebrate eldest's birthday we all went to see Tomorrow when the War began, based on the first of Australian writer's John Marsden's Tomorrow series of very popular teenage books (over 2.5 million copies sold) that follow the story of a group of teenagers responding to an invasion of Australia.

The first still shows  Corrie and Wllie planning the camping trip that begins the film.

John Marsden's books often have a country and small town background, reflecting his own interests.  In many ways, this runs against current trends in Australia. However, unlike the film Australia, this is modern Australia. His teens are teens, with many of the same types of interests as their more urban counterparts. Further, the country tow/rural setting is central to the plot down from access to farm bikes and equipment to the locale for guerrilla warfare. 

The film has been compared to US film Red Dawn. I hadn't heard of Red Dawn, but don't think that that's an accurate comparison. These are teen books. While adults will enjoy the movie, this is still a young person's film.    Playing in the creek     

The next still shows the group on the camp.

As you might expect, the film does capture some of the visual beauty and variety of the Australian country. Because I have some knowledge of the country involved, there were a couple of spots where I had to suspend disbelief.  

One of the difficulties with the film for many commentators is that any invasion of Australia necessarily involves one or more Asian countries. The books blur over this a little, but the visual nature of film makes it harder. To manage this, the invading enemy is an unspecified coalition.

Both my girls really loved the books, and I enjoyed them too, although I was sometimes conscious of problems in the back story that I had to put aside to just enjoy the books as books. To add to the connection, youngest also went to a writing camp put on by John Marsden on his farm.

Wirrawee's main street destroyed The next shot shows Wirrawee's main street destroyed.  

One of the difficulties the film faced is that John Marsden's readers were potentially very critical, fearful that the film would let down the first book.

Although the film has some weaknesses, we all enjoyed it. At points, the largely young audience broke into roars of laughter at particular side antics during the earlier part of the film.

The suspense is remarkably well done, the cinematography very good.

The next shot shows Ellie, Corrie and Fi fleeing at one point.   

Again, if you stand back and look at it objectively, you can pick holes. However, I wasn't really conscious of these while watching the Ellie Corrie and Fifilm.

So far, the film is deservedly scoring very well at the Australian and New Zealand box office. In Australia, it took $A765,830 on its first day. The audience at the cinema we went to was actually a little less than I had expected. I suspect some fans were holding back to see if it would be good.

I do not know the international release dates for the film. It will be interesting to see international takings.

For those who are interested, the stills used in this post come from the film's Facebook page.

Finally in the way of Australia, the latest wild weather across south eastern Australia continues the slow ending of the long drought that has gripped this part of the country. Large areas of Victoria are under water after the state's heaviest single day of rainfall in 15 years. Mind you, under water is a relative concept. We are not talking Pakistan style under water!

In the meantime, purchases of Australian water rights by overseas investors are raising concerns. At $A3 billion, two thirds in NSW, Australia is claimed to have the largest water rights market in the world. That was actually news to me. According to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, August rainfall across the Basin was very much above average to the highest on record for August. August inflows were in fact higher than those for whole 2006-2007 water year.

Much of the ground is now damp, so that more of the rainfall enters the rivers. It will be interesting to see what happens now. All those water rights purchases may have less value than the buyers had hoped.    

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