Movies

Australia

Synopsis

Australia tells the story of an English aristocrat lady who in northern Australia at the beginning of the second world war, travels to Australia to sell the inherited huge cattle station 'Faraway Downs'. She also wants to check up on her husband who she suspects of having an affair.

But her husband is murdered just before she arrives, and the station manager Neil Fletcher intends to take over.

She sacks the manager and reluctantly joins forces with a rough stockman to drive 2,000 head of cattle across hundreds of miles of the country's most unforgiving land to Darwin.

Arriving in Darwin they face the bombing by the Japanese forces that had attacked Pearl Harbor only months earlier.

The Aboriginal boy Nullah lives on the outback cattle property of the lady and becomes a central figure in the relationship between her and the local drover. She takes a maternal role in the boy's life.

Maybe, we say, the world is ready to finally hear this story. The story told so long and by so many others, and now again through the eyes of this whitefella Luhrmann, who followed their footsteps into the desert for a while, and just sat, and listened. — Baz Luhrmann about Baz Luhrmann [1]

[What had me mesmerised] was seeing great Indigenous Australian actors up there on the big screen and finally, seeing in a movie something that you recognise about yourself and your country. — Mahala Strohfeldt, Aboriginal journalist, Koori Mail [1]

Details

Cast
Nicole Kidman - Lady Sarah Ashley
Hugh Jackman - Drover
Brandon Walters* - young Nullah (Aboriginal boy)
David Gulpilil* - King George (Nullah's grandfather)
Bryan Brown - King Carney (cattle country owner)
David Wenham - Neil Fletcher (station manager)
Jack Thompson - Kipling Flynn (accountant)
John Jarratt - Sergeant
Barry Otto - Administrator Allsop
Shea Adams - Carney Boy #3
Ray Barrett - Bull
Tony Barry - Sergeant Callahan
Jamal Bednarz-Metallah - Mission Boy
Damian Bradford - Constable #1
Nathin Butler - Carney Boy #1
Tara Carpenter - Essential Services Woman
Rebecca Chatfield - Magarri's Niece
Lillian Crombie - Bandy Legs
Max Cullen - Old Drunk
Essie Davis - Cath Carney
Arthur Dignam - Father Benedict
Lillian Crombie* - Bandy Legs (carer for young Nullah)
Ursula Yovich* - Daisy (carer for young Nullah)
David Ngoombujarra* - Magarri
* Indigenous actor
Release dates
18th November 2008 - world premiere (Kununurra, Darwin, Bowen, Sydney)
26 November 2008 - Australia, USA
25 December 2008 - Germany and most of Europe
8 January 2009 - Argentina
23 January 2009 - Brazil
12 February 2009 - Russia
28 February 2009 - Japan
Rating
PG - Parental guidance
Soundtrack
Anton Monsted
Notes

Baz Luhrmann is 'heavily supportive' of Aboriginal people and has consulted extensively as to not cause any distress in how he presents the issue of the Stolen Generations.

Contrary to Luhrmann's sensitivity, Nicole Kidman showed her ignorance of Aboriginal customs when she blew the didgeridoo in a German TV show which promoted Australia. An Aboriginal cultural leader warned Kidman that she will have no more children after breaking a taboo against women playing the didgeridoo.

Many of the extras of Australia were Stolen Generations members.

Critics of Australia argue that the movie does not adequately show the misery Aboriginal workers had to endure on cattle stations. "[The] treatment that we used to get in the station was more like treating human being like a dog," Billy Bunter says, one of the few men still alive who worked for the British-owned Vesteys cattle company which was in the centre of the Wave Hill strike of 1966 for better wages [2].

11-year-old Brandon Walters plays a young Aboriginal musterer, a role Baz Luhrmann describes as 'substantial'. Brandon hadn't acted before. Walters' portrayal of Nullah mesmerised audiences across the world, but we should not forget to look beyond the beauty of Aboriginal children.

Aaron Pedersen was to play the adult Nullah, but his role and storyline was omitted from the final film.

Australia is one of the most expensive movies ever produced in Australia with an estimated budget of AU$150 million.

Locations:Sydney, Bowen, Darwin and Kununurra.

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References

View article sources (2)

[1] Big story has a big heart!', Koori Mail 440 p.12
[2] 'Indigenous mistreatment the untold story of Luhrmann's Australia', ABC Online 7/10/2008

Harvard citation

Korff, J 2018, Australia, <https://www.creativespirits.info/resources/movies/australia>, retrieved 16 February 2019

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