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TOP 100 MOVIES in 2008!
Directed by Baz Luhrmann
Set in northern Australia before World War II, an English aristocrat who inherits a sprawling ranch reluctantly pacts with a stock-man in order to protect her new property from a takeover plot. As the pair drive 1,500 head of cattle over unforgiving landscape, they experience the bombing of Darwin, Australia, by Japanese forces firsthand.
Epic movies are almost impossible to make and there are very few people who can pull it off. Everything is heightened in these movies. The stakes, the conflict, the themes. The paint brush is definitely a broad stroke and if the final product is very good, then they usually stand the test of time for decades to come and become classics.
And Australia almost hits it out of the ballpark. They had all of the right pieces of the puzzle in place: the story, the actors and definitely the director. A batting practice fastball was thrown right down the middle of the plate and all the seasoned hitter had to do what was we usually does, knock it over the fence. But this time he missed slightly and popped it up.
Australia is a routine pop up out that was suppose to be a homerun unfortunately. And it's just the slightest inch in the execution that caused this.
This film can easily be compared to Gone With the Wind. Our heroin is of wealth and perhaps can be a bit snobby. She then gets transplanted into a situation that's a bit uneven and the conflicts begin. During the conflict, she steps up and befriends a race that is treated unfairly in society and learns a few things about herself in the process. And oh yeah, she also meets and falls in love with a man's man who is from a different world.
Australian director Baz Luhrmann gives the audiences a hard and beautiful look at the land of Australia leading up to the 2nd World War. Many of us (including me) aren't aware of Australia's involvement or of their dealings with the Aboriginal people of the land. So we also learn a whole lot while watching this film too. Luhrmann is a terrific filmmaker who helps give the actors great performances all around. While his sense of camera style to effect the emotions of the audience and conflict throughout is terrific.
So what went wrong? It's just a simple thing really. We just didn't get too emotionally involved in our two main leads. And both of their relationship's with the Aboriginal child (who, some can argue is truly the main character of the film) is key in this film and it just falls flat. We don't see enough of how much these two should care about this boy. They need this in order to set up the final 3rd act of the film.
Why do Sarah and Drover (Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman) fall in love and can't get enough of each other? That answer just isn't fully developed.
I never like to compare movies but I'll make an exception to try to prove my point. Take a look at James Cameron's Titanic. A wealthy young lady falls for a young boy from the other side of the tracks. This relationship works really well in Titanic but doesn't in Australia. So I wondered why. First things first: It's the people who stand in their way for their true love. Very Romeo and Juliet. In Australia, Sarah and Drover really don't have any outside conflicts, except for life's situations and their inner conflicts. Titanic has the same conflicts, but the family and jealous ex-boyfriend really are the true people who stand in their way for true love. They just needed that extra conflict to push them over the fence and keep the audience involved throughout. So this epic romance isn't really epic. And we are aware of this throughout the film. This isn't a problem when you're watching a 2 hour film, but when it's 3 hours, you want a whole lot more bang for you buck.
There was a recent PODCAST on this site talking about the 3 hour movie. It's just can't be okay. It must be great because you can't recommend to someone to invest 3 hours of their time for something that's just okay. Especially in this day and age.
And Australia is just okay. There just needed to be more of a story to set up the romance between our leads. If we see how much they'll do for love, then we'll follow them through anything. Love concurs all! And then their relationship with the boy is heightened even more because we know these are people who are all about love and nothing else.
That's what we love to see, true love in movies. And we didn't see it in this film.