On Friday evening I streamed the movie Australia starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Australia was released on November 26, 2008. $130 million was spent to make this movie. It grossed $211,342,221 worldwide. Russell Crowe was originally signed to star opposite Nicole Kidman in Australia. The director, Baz Luhrmann, found Crowe difficult and in 2007 replaced him with Hugh Jackman. Thank you Baz!
Many movie critics bashed this movie as has much of the American audience. I am not sure why that is. There are some things about Australia that don’t work, but I did not think it was an awful movie at all. I thought it was quite good despite anything that could have been better. Australia is a very long epic style movie but I was never bored for a second and it held my complete attention. I noticed that movies which such themes as racism are usually not well liked and criticized a lot. The main theme is about Australian children who were fathered by white men. They were taken from their mother’s shortly after birth and sent to be slaves to white people. In general the Aborigine people were not treated well It was a learning experience for me because I had no idea that this occurred in Australian history. People can continue to pan this movie all they want. It did excellent at the box office. It also sold very well within days after the DVD release. It opened at #2 in DVD sales in the first weekend of its release for purchase. In its first month almost two million DVD’s of Australia was sold. In less than a year after the DVD was released, sales revenue for Australia totaled 27.9 million dollars in the USA alone. Not bad for a movie that is supposed to be so awful. I plan to add to that DVD sales revenue.
A lot of people who love Australia see it as a love story. I don’t see Australia as a love story. It has the element of love in it, but Drover and Lady Sarah’s relationship is not the focal point nor what this movie is really about. It amazes me that so many people believe it is a love story because Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman kiss , have sex and then fall in love, but do not seem to recall the central theme of racism throughout this movie.
The storyline begins just before the outbreak of World War II. Nicole Kidman plays Lady Sarah Ashley who is an English aristocrat. Her husband has been in Australia for a long time on his cattle farm, Faraway Downs, way out in the Australian outback. Sarah’s husband is also a philanderer. Sarah decides to travel to Australia to get her husband to come back home. The cattle farm is also not doing well because the man hired to help on Faraway Downs has been stealing Ashley’s cattle.
Once Sarah arrived in Australia she was supposed to be met by Drover played by Hugh Jackman, but he was in a bar and got caught up in a fight. Drover and Lady Sarah do not get off to a good start. Drover works as an independent contractor for Sarah’s husband and he was asked to pick Sarah up and take her on the long drive to Faraway Downs. By the time Drover reaches the outback he is fed up with Sarah, but you instinctively know darned well that down the road the two will enjoy carnal delights and then profess love to one another.
When the two reach faraway Downs they find Sarah’s husband dead. Maitland Ashley has been murdered and the authorities blame it on an Aboriginal Elder named King George to cover up for the real killer who is a man named Fletcher. King George is the grandfather of Nullah, a young Aborigine boy who is half white. Fletcher is Nullah’s father. He wants to sell Nullah into slavery. Nullah’s mother is a beautiful Aborigine woman named Daisy who loves her son despite who his father is. Daisy has to keep Nullah in hiding or else the authorities will come and take him away. The actress, Ursula Yovich, who played Daisy did an excellent job communicating her feelings with her facial expressions. Every time the camera did a close up of her I could see her feelings of fear, helplessness and desperation. Daisy was like a slave to Fletcher as well. She was leading a really sad life being ruled by this Fletcher guy who would beat her without a second thought.
Ursula Yovich is gorgeous in this movie. I am pretty sure the actress was darkened up for this role because when I looked her up online to see what other work she has done I was surprised to find her looking a great deal lighter. See the press photo of Ursula Yovich below.
After Lady Sarah buries her husband she decides to sell Faraway Downs and return to England. However, after Nullah informs Sarah of a few things that has been going on behind her husband’s back, she fires Fletcher and decides take over operations of the cattle farm.
Lady Sarah is really not a very well fleshed out character. It is not really very believable that an English aristocrat is going to morph sop quickly into the type of women Sarah became. One minute Sarah is having servants handle her every wish and the next is in the Australian Outback helping to round-up cows on a horse.
Hugh Jackman is an absolute HUNK in Australia. The man was definitely working out at the gym. He does not look skeletal at all and has a very muscular torso. There is a scene where he is taking a bath outdoors that is simply delicious to look at.
The second tragedy in this film is when Daisy drowns. She goes into a huge tank filled with water with Nullah to hide him from the authorities until they drive away. It is a very sad segment. I learned a few things about Aborigine people. When someone dies the people never say their name again. The Aborigine also cannot look upon an image of a deceased person or listen to their voice. Before the movie Australia begins there is a message on the screen that reads: “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers should use caution when viewing this film as it may contain images and voices of deceased persons”
There is much wailing and sadness when Daisy passes on. Lady Sarah tries to console Nullah. She tells him the story of the Wizard of Oz which Nullah has never heard before and is mesmerized. Sarah also tries to sing the song Over the Rainbow that Judy Garland sang in the Wizard of Oz. Sarah can barely remember the words but she does remember the tune.
Fletcher is now working for King Carney. Under orders from King Carney Fletcher follows Drover and Sarah as they lead the cattle across Australia. He makes several attempts to try to kill the cows. At one point the cows are so worked up and heading straight for a cliff. Drover, Sarah and their team are desperately trying to stop another tragedy. King George and Nullah has a secret language that they use to communicate. With the secret language and magic Nullah saves the cows from stampeding off the cliff.
While Drover and Lady Sarah are taking the cows across Australia they strike up a romance. You can easily see it coming because it is predictable. Personally, I did not see any real chemistry between Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Their entire relationship in this movie came off as very cliché to me. When Sarah and Drover first kiss, afterwards you learn that Drover was once married to the sister of his best friend, Magarri who is Aboriginal. Drover had gone away for a while to England and when he returned he found his wife very sick. She died because as a “black” she was refused medical treatment at a hospital. At the time in Australia hospitals were for whites only. Even though Drover is white, he is also shunned by the white community because he is very friendly with the Aboriginals and married one of them. So to the whites Drover is as good as black too.
To me the story would have been much more interesting if instead of pairing Nicole and Hugh in a cliché relationship, they had him still happily married to his Aboriginal wife and she was not dead. Not only did I not sense any deep chemistry between Nicole and Hugh, but also the Drover character seemed much deeper than the romantic direction the script writers took him in. I just could not buy into it but it ii what it is
After much drama Drover and Sarah successfully deliver the herd of cattle and beat King Carney at his own game. King Carney is angry at Fletcher for not being successful at destroying Faraway Downs. Lady Sarah decides to remain in Australia and hire Drover to work for her. Drover is not receptive to the idea at all initially. He is downright against it as a matter of fact and believes that Lady Sarah should sell Faraway Downs and return to England.
The next thing I know Drover changes his mind and shows up at a party that at first he refused to attend. Drover took such an about-face turn so fast and to me it seems out of character. Drover shows up at the party completely clean-shaven and dressed in a tuxedo. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated how handsome Hugh Jackman looked but the sudden change really did not make much sense. All I could think of was that after pondering over the situation Driver decided to change his mind so that he can continue his budding romance with Lady Sarah end up in bed with her.
Lady Sarah and Drover love together at Faraway Downs. Nullah also lives with them. Lady Sarah has come to care for and love Nullah as if he is her own child. Sarah and her husband never had any children because she is barren.
During the two years that Lady Sarah and Drover are living and working together, Fletcher kills King Carney, marries Carney’s daughter and takes over the Carney empire. Fletcher also continues to harass Faraway Downs ranch.
Nullah is moved to go on a “walkabout” with his grandfather King George. Lady Sarah is very worried because Nullah has not returned. Lady Sarah and Drover have an argument and Sarah tells him not to come back to Faraway Downs. King George is arrested and put in jail. Nullah was taken by the authorities to live on an island with other mixed race Aboriginal children. Lady Sarah vows to find Nullah no matter how long it takes and bring him back to Faraway Downs.
Lady Sarah is now working as a radio operator in Darwin during WWII. The war escalates and Darwin is invaded by the Japanese in 1942.
Drover is worried about Sarah and Nullah. In Darwin Drover overhears that Lady Sarah has been killed in the bombing. Drover is crying and is in anguish over Lady Sarah’s death. After learning that Nullah was kidnapped and taken to Mission Island, with his best friend Magarri they decide to free “The Lost Children” from the island. Nullah and Drover reunite. Drover informs Nullah that Lady Sarah’s name can no longer be spoken. During the bombing parts of the jailhouse has been destroyed and King George is able to walk out to freedom.
Th authorities discover that the dead woman they thought was Lady Sarah is actually Fletcher’s wife. Lady Sarah is alive. Now this is where things get really dumb. Lady Sarah hears a the tune to the Wizard of Oz song Over the Rainbow being played on a harmonica. It is so far off and there is so much noise that you know darned well Lady Sarah could not possibly be hearing it. Lady Sarah follows the sound and Nullah spots her.
Some time later, Fletcher appears at Faraway Downs to kill his own son Nullah.
King George is perched high and sees what is about to happen. King George speaks a few words in his native language and then send a spear right through Fletcher just before he is about to shoot Nullah.
Nullah takes off his western style clothes, says goodbye to Lady Sarah and walks of into the Australian sunset with King George.
I feel that Australia had to be made and that it is an important movie.
Making Australia was obviously very important to Baz Luhrmann. I think that script could have been tightened up a little more. Some people complained it was too long, but epics are usually long. Think of movies like The Agony and The Ecstasy and Beckett. Epics movies do not unfold quickly. Maybe audiences today do not have the patience to sit through epic movies. I LOVED how parts of the Wizard of Oz and the song Over the Rainbow was used in this movie. I thought it was very clever and found it quite touching.
The cinematography in Australia is breathtaking. The outback of Australia is just gorgeous and unfortunately I could not find any photos of the cinematography.
As much as I love Hugh Jackman in Australia I don’t consider Drover his best role. Maybe his best role so far is Wolverine? I can’t wait to see the Wolverine movies in order. I consider Nicole Kidman and great actress but I think she has done better work. That does not mean that she didn’t do a good job in Australia. I would have loved to see Lady Sarah’s transformation more fleshed out so that it was believable. I think Daniela Denby-Ashe would have been great as Lady Sarah. I found Kidman a little too glamorous in the role. I could not help picturing Richard Armitage as Drover. I think he would have been an excellent choice as well and certainly a big change from the type of movies and characters that RA has portrayed.