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Baz Luhrmann's Australia is good, but not a masterpiece

David Stratton | November 18, 2008

Article from:  The Australian

BAZ Luhrmann's eagerly awaited Australia is certainly the epic that we all expected.

It's very ambitious, it has enormous sweep and scope as it tells a story that takes place in the Northern Territory between 1939 and 1941.

VIDEO: Australia trailer | GALLERY: Stars face the press | GALLERY: Baz Luhrmann's Australia

Of course, as most people know, the leading character played by Nicole Kidman is an Englishwoman who comes to a small property that her husband owns in the Territory to discover that her husband in fact has been killed. She forms an alliance with The Drover for the district, played by Hugh Jackman, in combating the local cattle baron, who's played by Bryan Brown.

The film has sections, really - the first, the arrival of Lady Sarah Ashley to Australia and her meeting with the Hugh Jackman character and with the half-Aboriginal boy who plays an important part in the story, leading the cattle drive. With great difficulty they drive cattle to Darwin to get there ahead of the big cattle baron.

The second half of the story, after the inevitable love affair, involves the Japanese attack on Darwin and all its ramifications.

Like his earlier films Strictly Ballroom, Romeo+Juliet and Moulin Rouge, Australia shows Baz Luhrmann as a very theatrical director. He has a great eye for compositions and the film is beautifully shot by Mandy Walker, but there’s theatricality about the film which is a bit off-putting at the beginning. The early scenes, even the first 20 minutes or so of the film, are handled in a slightly artificial, arch manner which doesn't sit well with the outback locations and the natural settings of the story.

It's all very well to be artificial when you're dealing with a theatrical concept like Moulin Rouge or even Strictly Ballroom, but it doesn't really work so well when you're doing the same sort of thing here, so there's something that's just a little bit off key about these scenes. Then once the cattle drive gets under way either you get used to it or that aspect of it is played down because the remainder of the film is much stronger in a rather conventional way.

I have to say, there's a lot of clichés in the script, a lot of familiar elements from other films of the past - The Wizard of Oz and the song Over the Rainbow are heavily referenced – and it's as though the film is aimed at not so much an Australian audience but an international audience, and especially an American audience.

I think probably it has the potential to be quite successful in America because it is, I think for Australians, a rather simplistic view of this whole period. It's the sort of film where if you make a point about half-caste Aboriginals in the first 10 minutes you have to restate exactly the same point another couple of hours further on.

The film is not without flaws, it's not the masterpiece that we were hoping for, but I think you could say that it's a very good film in many ways. While it will be very popular with many people I think there's a slight air of disappointment after it all. But I will say that the acting is of a very high level, especially given that some of the actors have been encouraged to perform in this rather stylised, theatrical way. Nicole Kidman does a very good job as she develops from this very stiff, awkward, naive Englishwoman to become a really warm character at the end of the film.

Hugh Jackman has tremendous charisma and charm, and the supporting cast is particularly good; Jack Thompson as the alcoholic accountant for the property gives a lovely performance, Bryan Brown is terrific as the cattle baron, although his demise is extremely perfunctory, and David Wenham is another terrific villain, very charming and intense. In minor roles there are all sorts of interesting people including Ben Mendelssohn, Bill Hunter and Arthur Dignam. And then there's little 12-year-old Brandon Walters, who plays the Aboriginal boy, who's really very good indeed.

Despite its flaws - and it certainly has flaws - I think Australia is an impressive and important film, and if I were to give it a star rating I would give it three and a half out of five.

Your Comments:

100 Comment(s)

gazza of Darwin 6:15pm November 30, 2008

Baz Luhrmann spent a great deal of money , time and effort in paying attention to minor historic detail in the making of the movie 'Australia'.He even had a sailing boat re-rigged in Darwin so it would look like a 1930/40's sailing boat ( if anyone would notice). Why then does he grossly misrepresent major aspects of our history ? The closest any Japanese military personnel let alone troops got to Australian shores, other than by plane or submarine ( Sydney Harbour) was a few miles north of Port Moresby and Timor. So why does he have children being rescued from Japanese troops off an island a short distance out of Darwin? So now we have thousands of people throughout Australia the world watching "Australia' and believing this country was attacked by the Japanese infantry. But I suppose Baz had what he saw was a major message to give to the world and he wasn't going to let the facts get in the way of a good story. Other aspects of the movie proved more than frustrating given that Baz stated he wanted to take the movie on location to capture the raw beauty of the landscape and portray a not well known chapter of our history. People hoping to come to the Kimberley to see first hand what was portrayed in the movie will be disappointed. There is no deep canyon or gorge running along side the Bungle Bungles down which the cattle nearly plunged.The King George River is so remote and isolated that there are no roads to it and it can only be accessed by chartering a boat at huge expense. The most frustrating element of this movie is Luhrmann's portrayal of the Stolen Generation.This whole issue has caused immense debate both socially and politically within Australia.There is more than enough documented evidence to prove not all these children were 'stolen', in fact very few were. Children are still removed from their families today in mainstream Australia for the same reasons, for their protection. The Intervention imposed by the Liberal government in 2007 has been continued by the Labor government today for the same reasons, to protect Aboriginal children. I found the movie long and unoriginal. It is not an epic but simply a vehicle for Luhrmann to make a moral statement and hopefully cash in on the tourism industry to provide box office success.

Skarp of Sydney 1:12pm November 30, 2008

If I've seen Far and Away does that qualify me to comment on Australia? Although the remake seems to be more beige and pasty than the original.

Calm Horizons of Sydney 9:45am November 29, 2008

This film made me feel like a hippie on very strong acid, once I decided to stop fighting and go with it, I actually quite enjoyed it.

Glad I'm Welsh of Sydney 3:51pm November 28, 2008

Rohan's comment is spot on!

Shellsey of Sydney Australia 10:53am November 27, 2008

I have seen the movie 'AUSTRALIA' yesterday, it truly was a rare and exceptional film. I will never forget the experience and the real insightful look into the history of Australia. I found the movie transport you into a place were you experience real life emotional turmoil, death, heartache, grief, compassion, ultimate acts of hatred, racism, showing a true reflection of the stolen generation, injustice, human beings at their worst, plus human beings at their exceptional best and potential, breathtaking scenery, sincere touches of warmth, heartfelt expressions of innocence, real love, turmoil within the human spirit, transformation, delightful moments of joy, touches of magic, great humour and laughter, sensitivity and respect towards aboriginal culture and spirituality. This is a rare piece of creativity that touches the heart in a subtle but powerful way. Thank you Baz Luhrmann for your rare insightful movie of Australia .... I jumped with fright, laughed loudly, cried with sadness and from a place of great joy. This is a REALLY SPECIAL FILM. Kind regards Shellsey Sydney Australia PS.... Catherine is an inspirational talent with so many things she does. PSS... What an angel little Brandon Walters is.

Mr Denmore of Randwick 3:02pm November 26, 2008

Baz Lurhman is the world's most over-rated director; his films a victory of style over substance. I loved what one US reviewer said - this is a Frankenstein of a movie, one put together from the left-over body parts of others. It is a rollcall of cliches from woe to go, a vapid and cynical attempt to make an entertaining "epic" for an undiscerning American audience, while milking gullible, lame-brained and unsophisticated nationalists in this country who see it as some sort of tourism commercial. I'm only surprised that David Stratton was so kind about it; perhaps he was being mindful of putting News Corporation offside.

Mr Smarty Pants of Perth 5:57am November 26, 2008

Was Colleen McCullough one of the writers(?),and 60% of these commentators can't spell very well.

gator of sydney 6:55pm November 25, 2008

Luhrman's movie is a political statement on race relations, ie Stolen bloddy generations etc, he has disguised his politicaly correct history lesson inside a trojan horse story about a love affair between a drover and an english lady. All along the suckers are paying 15 bucks a head to watch Rabitt Proof Fence meets Pearl Harbour. Claire Harvey in the Sydney Sunday Telegraph was boasting about how Baz has sneaked his race message in with a sugar coated pill. Now audiences will watch it like the dupes they are. Save your money folks or else get Rabitt Proof Fence from Video Exy for a buck, same crap, same depressing message. Luhrman deserves to fail for his deceit and his pandering to the so called culturaly literate.

Adam Walker of NSW 5:56pm November 25, 2008

AUSTRALIA - A precisous and vast land that so many call home and yet now that it's name has been borrowed or perhaps stolen without rightful consideration by it's many people all we can do is condemn.............? There are some EXTREMELY VALID POINTS, NOTIONS and OPINIONS listed by some well educated people with obvious written communication skills, followed by a great number of shallow minded back biters whom see it necessary to wallow in thier own self indulgent minds! It is simply a film and in my OPINION not a bad one, offering insight into our amazing landscapes and wildlife with what I can only describe as one mans version of our history............... but SO WHAT........ Baz is the man that created this interesting though somewhat personal summary of our culture, it's heritage and in some respects our future but has done so during the whole process without calling it a documentary or accurate account of "Australia" or "Australians". It is a film and like so many others out there it is made up of imagination and ones beliefs or understanding translated through his own hand. As for the acting ...... I believe Hugh Jackman to be a very talented man in MY OPINION and although think little of Nicoles ability I do not see a need to drag her through the mud as so many have done to her and others in the comments below. AUSTRALIAN or not the narrow minded self wallowing small minded hypocrites who mock a person/s efforts in life or tarnish their name because they have said or done something you do not agree with is the MOST TYPICALLY UN-AUSTRALIAN release this year in or out of the box office

beryl of nsw 10:11am November 24, 2008

reading some of these comments,I wonder what's really wrong with Australians just go and see it ,if only to be proud of your country with the scenery,it's not going to cost you a lot of money...so enjoy, it's got to be better than most of the hollywood crap so called blockbusters,NICOLE CAN ACT

Moya of Brissie 1:11am November 24, 2008

Well, Moulin Rouge didn't do THAT well at the box office (only 57 mil in the US) so I worry that this 150 mill movie is not going to recoup its cost, and then the media will say it was a flop. The trailers I saw 2 days ago laid out the entire plotline, and I think that is a mistake. Americans might think 'why bother to see it?'. I hope it does well, for Kidman's sake - she's had too many turkeys in recent years.

peter solari of Hollywood, CA, USA 4:34pm November 23, 2008

Please, guys, chill out! This is a movie, not a documentary on Australian history. I just saw AUSTRALIA at a Screen Actors Guild showing at 20th Century Fox and loved the movie. Hugh Jackman was perfect for the role, very much like Clint Eastwood, Clark Gable, Greg Peck, Gary Cooper that Russell Crowe could never do! AUSTRALIA is supposed to be a 30's, 40's, 50's Hollywood movie--think GONE WITH THE WIND, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, MRS. MINIVER, THE BIG COUNTRY, DESTRY RIDES AGAIN. And when is a movie with a location name truly about that location? Are CHICAGO, OKLAHOMA, CASABLANCA,SAN FRANCISCO, NEW YORK, NEW YORK, and PHILADELPHIA really about those places? And anybody who's worked on a film knows that everybody concerned with AUSTRALIA worked his ass off making this wonderful movie. So I hope AUSTRALIA is an all around huge success. Peter Solari in Hollywood, California. P.S. Hugh Jackman was onstage for Q and A, and, as usual, he was fabulous!

rod of newcastle nsw 3:46pm November 22, 2008

many years ago we went to a concert in Tamworth by Graham Connors one of his songs was THE RINGER AND THE PRINCESS the similarity to this great song and the movie AUSTRALIA lead me to believe it could be the basis of the movie

Casey of Brisbane 7:20am November 22, 2008

Why the fuss? It's not a movie it's a commodity. It was made to make money, to elevate Baz Luhrman's ego and to give pontificating critics yet another opportunity to air their opinions. By Christmas the hype will have died and Luhrman and his mates will be making desperate efforts to court Oscar nominations. But it's still just another circus folks, and they've sent in the clowns!

Paul of Perth 7:15pm November 21, 2008

Australia? Please, no. This Luhrmann abomination or sugary coated slice of Australiana is a cringing, embarrassing sack full of cattledung. Yes, the acting is Kidman (enough said) and Jackman (Russell Crowe couldn't be bothered signing on) plus a few white 'teethed' Aboriginal actors. A white, air brushed viewpoint perhaps? The scenery is doctored, yes, its not all that it seems fellow Aussies! The script...why am I thinking of Pearl Harbour, Far and Away as well as The Shiralee? What happened to the great Aussie movies? How about more quality creations such as Sunday Too Far Away, The Club, Mad Max, Crocodile Dundee, Wolf Creek, The Proposition, Ten Canoes, Chopper, The Odd Angry Shot, Muriel's Wedding, Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, Lantana, Strictly Ballroom, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Babe, Romper Stomper, Bad Boy Bubby, Caddie, Breaker Morant, Gallipoli, ...

robert from melbourne of williamstown 10:13am November 21, 2008

if a film isnt an artistic expression of the director the writer and the producer then it is soleless. When these titles are the domain of one person dont be too suprised to see that persons concious and subconcious values, dreams and apsirations played out before us. As for whether this film has the potential to help our tourism industry i csn assure you that when Baz began writing and preparing tnree or four years ago it was deadlines and content that were uppermost in his mind not who would hitch their wagon or whether the studio would sell it soul to the merchandising demons.

Doric of Melbourne 7:13pm November 20, 2008

To short poppy. To say Australian's are infected by tall poppy syndrome ignores the fact that the artistic bar has been set lower and lower and unless we speak up the trend will continue. Hugh Jackman is a very handsome pleasant man, but an actor? Come on. Nicole the poor girl is now living in an alternate reality. And as for the muck that is served up as entertainment......well, where do you start?

Short Poppy of Adelaide 12:42pm November 20, 2008

Tall Poppy syndrome is why Australians struggle against themselves and will for ever put each other into their rightful place, always hampering our image to the world. Oh....Let's not get too carried away! I want to see a film...no, a grand film, in keeping with the style of other 1940's films . Yes, a film which is blatantly over acted, schmaltzy, and over stylized. A romanticized story of an uptight ,uppity, full of herself lady who in spite of herself falls for the rugged, strong, tough, emotionless man and who both become transformed by their love for each other. A film that will make me feel patriotic and proud of our country with all its historical faults and political misdemeanors, we know the truth, I don't kneed to see it on screen, I can watch a documentary for that! Yes these things are not real, I'm not stupid but we are heading for a recession I'm already over the realities of life, I have enough of that every day. I just want a great lipstick, my hair done and Hugh Jackman on screen please, now.......Can't wait! Short Poppy Business Woman by day Romantic by night

Doric of Melbourne 11:27am November 20, 2008

It%u2019s just a film.......a bit of fun....a flight of fiction........get over it already. Keep saying that and Hollywood will keep churning out the mindless production line garbage they have become so adept at doing that are often so bad that instead of being forgettable, you can%u2019t forget them because of just how bad they really are that make you start wondering if you are not losing your mind. %u201CIn periods of economic and political crisis ignorance bares its teeth%u201D. L Trotsky-%u201CTheir Morals and Ours%u201D 1936

Samantha of Tassie 11:06am November 20, 2008

I have just seen a great Aussie movie albeit with non Aussie actors in the lead but a good movie nevertheless. It's called Jindabyne. Has anyone ever heard of it? No hype about it at all. I used to like Nicole and I still think she is probably a nice person but really all that Hollywood style face surgery plumping and pumping and that horrible stringy hair is spoiling her. Expressions are important to an actress think about that Nic. She can hardly smile anymore it looks painful. Rethink all this Nic. You have the basics of being a good actress but really you need expression.

Leo of Los Angeles 9:36am November 20, 2008

Hmm, I'm surprised you liked the film, David. Although you do kind of damn it with faint praise.I saw a test screening of the picture back in June. It was everything I thought it would be. Kidman sporting a funny English accent and lots of travelogue panoramas. The cliches were shooting from the screen so fast people were ducking. I'm going to catch the film again only to see what changes Luhrmann has made. I see the running time is still a bum-aching 3 hours.

Doric of Melbourne 8:18am November 20, 2008

To Simon Coates of Sydney-Hilarious.

max of nsw 12:35am November 20, 2008

The o/s travellers better come and see the place now as soon there will be none left except for where the coal and mineral pits have been and masticated the lot. After that we can just call it Nauru and book our tickets to Europe in time for summer in the south of France. "Our Beautiful country Australia" - dont make me puke. The place is just a massive stinking coal pit from the time you pass Maitland.

Doric of Melbourne 12:05am November 20, 2008

Q. What do Nicole Kidman and the film "Australia" have in common? A. $150 million of cosmetic surgery

rachael of melbourne 11:50pm November 19, 2008

What a pile of steaming shite!!! A movie that is fairy floss.......over blown, sickly sweet, big, but really just alot of hot air and nothingness.... The movie deals in banalities and glib references to history with a tacked together plot. ...... And don't get me started with Nicole Kidman....... That woman CAN"T act , is wooden, and her plastic personage is strangely mesmerising due to its freakesh immobility, pumped and curdled lips, chiselled cheeks, nose . ....Yeah GREAT advert for hollywood plastic people.....Our Nic....give us a break....Please!!!

Marie of Kununurra 11:41pm November 19, 2008

Saw it last night. Er%u2026its ok. It is like a very long music video but without someone singing middle of the screen. David%u2019s review is spot on as usual. But other reviewers seem to have this strange, obsession with Nicole that seems to make excuses for her poor performances. Nicole is such a ham it is unbelievable. If she was directed to act like this fair enough but no-one else seems to be as over the top as her. She seems really cold and detached and so unsexy although Hugh makes up for it. The boy is fantastic and so is David. Hugh seems to look more like an American cowboy than a drover and I can%u2019t put my finger on why. Her 40s outfits also look more 1920s but that might be me. Nice scenery but in real life it is nice without the extra colouring added. Some bits really look fake and that surprised me considering all the technology available. There is some sort of secret society thing going on that we all need to support it for our country%u2019s sake but it has too many flaws but it is still worth seeing. I don't understand why WA gov put so much money in, we don't get a mention as it seems all to be about NT.

Doric of Melbourne 11:00pm November 19, 2008

Mac, a typically disingenuos right wing tactic, feigned indignation over something I never said or even alluded to. I did not criticize Australia, her culture or her people. I pointed out that this piece of clichéd trash, called %u201CAustralia%u201D is set during wartime Australia, and is a blatant piece of government sponsored propaganda shite to whip up patriotic fervor as the nations of the world are rearming themselves to the teeth in preparations for further escalation in hostilities. War is always promoted as the defense of %u201Cour culture, our democracy (joke), our way of life, when infact all war is murder in the holy quest to secure resources and markets during periods of deep economic crisis.

fuzz herman of Melbourne 10:47pm November 19, 2008

This ain't $150 million our money, it's the studios. Either this thing works or Baz will be shooting commercials of Pandas for the Hong Kong Zoo. I would have liked to have seen Rodney Rude and Kevin bloody Wilson do a few songs - a bit like Nat King Cole did in Cat Ballou - it would have added to the supidity. $150 million bucks Crickey. I wonder if we will see little dolls of the Aboriginal kid in the shops.

expat101 of Germany 10:37pm November 19, 2008

A great attempt at a narcisstic, meet and greet, renovated-aussie-oi national consensus which basically reworks the bum-wobbling scene in Sunday Too Far Away a couple of hours. Looks like it was funded by the halycon days of private equity, and should be a notable contribution to art-funding driven credit crunch. My ribs are already sore from the beating expats take over this sort of sluice. What about making a nice film about stingrays, Baz?

elastogirl of newcastle 10:14pm November 19, 2008

Crikey mates, it's a movie. Relax, suspend disbelief and ENJOY!!

neilus of Overseas 8:41pm November 19, 2008

Sounds like utter dross

Gavleopardi of Liverpool, England 7:33pm November 19, 2008

I'm strictly an impartial outsider observing all of this from afar. But I must say it depresses me that some witless committee of financial apparachiks domestically and abroad have chosen to defer to Baz Luhrmann to hang the future of your indigenous film-making (and by extension tourist industry) onto his film. With a title so self-consciously grandiloquent like 'AUSTRALIA' revealing a hubristic arrogance that assumes everything about your country is contained in it, the scale of posturing ego on display matched only by the conflated budget, this is one film I hope burns in infamy before sinking into obscurity. Wake up! Have you not noticed the man's films hitherto have had about as much depth and resonance as a saucer? You build an indigenous industry by making truthful films about your country, its people and history, not by some perceived second-guessing at what outsiders may think about you and then catering to those notions. I'm in my late thirties but have enough film knowledge to remember films like 'Sunday too far away', 'The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith', 'My Favourite year', 'The Club','The Road Warrior' and 'The Last wave' and yearn for your country to address its imagination towards those stories and ideas again. That's when people will come to discover what you have to offer, not this sanitised, cliched, mediocre culture for export rubbish! Look at yourselves! The Scots did the same with Braveheart and they're still paying for it now!!!!!!!!

Kent Bayley of Gold Coast 6:43pm November 19, 2008

Oh dear. David I will bet it would have received 5 stars if had been some obscure french subtittled film. You just need to watch movies for the escapeism and entertainment and please stop being a critic and try being positive and enlightened. While your at it, please dont listen to that dreadful guteral Margarget Pomeranz who is even more negative than you are. Thank you.

Liddy of Hurstville 6:18pm November 19, 2008

I think alot of you forget this film is intended for American audiences and is basically a free $150M marketing opportunity for Tourism Australia. I'm surprised so many people were expecting it to ever resonate locally.

melbournemilly of Melbourne 5:45pm November 19, 2008

I can't wait to see this movie and if David likes it I'm sure it will be worth the price of a ticket. Baz has a wonderful eye and I remember being so excited by the visual spectacular of Moulin Rouge which, at the time, was a surprise and delight. I'm either naive or in touch with my inner child but I loved it and am confident I will love this one. We all need stories and some of us are so sick of the "gruesome murder as entertainment" school of film-making. Bring it on Baz!

Anthony of Woollahra 5:21pm November 19, 2008

John Fox - so its true - news really does take a long time to filter through to the deep north. Those tossers from SBS switched to the ABC several years ago. So, who's the tosser?

Anthony of Woollahra 5:18pm November 19, 2008

Jamie - 4.36 - how right you are! The fact is, this plastic, scrawny barbie look-a-like simply can not act. I reckon the only reason she got a gong was political pay back for Iraq! - certainly not for 10 minutes wearing a fake nose! Of course, having been Mrs Cruise has helped a bit. Nonetheless, good on Baz for having a go; I'll certainly check it out.

john jarratt of brisbane 5:03pm November 19, 2008

This film is NOT Brecht, it is escapism on a grand scale. It is brave enough to tackle issues such as the "stolen generation" the kind of subjects usually limited to the arthouse shlock. The difference between arthouse and commercial is that people want to see commercial films. People like Baz have the guts to make movies in his home country KNOWING there's a sizeable chunk of the population who couldn't take a decent holiday snap; champing at the bit to constantly kick him and his films fair IN the guts. Those that can do, those that can't hack at tall poppies. Celebrate the fact that a film making genius CHOOSES to make films here, Celebrate the fact that within a supposed lightweight film Hugh Jackman delivers one of the best performances I have ever seen. Yes cringe dwellers, "Australia" can stand up proudly any where in the world. But be careful not to stand too proudly or too close to an Australian knocker "Australia" and if you do, bugger 'em, as my Dad would say, knock 'em down first.

Luka of Darwin 4:39pm November 19, 2008

The problem here is that it isn't just a movie. Baz has every intention of selling this overseas to the multitudes who think this bunch of unbeleivable, people? are the real Australia. He's just giving overseas what it wants. Why is this so bad. 1. We've spent the last twenty years trying to prove to the world that we are actually sophistcated people, and you can travel and invest in Australia with that in mind. 2. He is presenting this to the world as an historical portrayal of Australia. Not only will the ignorant youth of Australia now grow up with a totally warped idea of Australian history 39-41 but now so will the world. For the record i am a born and bred Darwinian and a student of world war two for over twenty years. I have also studied Australian History. This film is garbage.

Jamie of Brisbane 4:36pm November 19, 2008

If only Nicole Kidman wasn't in it! She's so beige and unremarkable - I just couldn't sit through 3 hours of her.

Thaddeus of Sydney 4:11pm November 19, 2008

What? No poker machines at all in the film....the sacred icon of Strayan Kulcha left out altogether!!!..David Stratton's critique as always is appreciated. Could "Australia" be an antidote to all the tonnage of violent,inane American crap that infest our cinemas and are loved by Aussies who have never had a chance to see any decent films.Well done Baz Luhrman and cast for having the courage to make a film about Australia without 500 car crashes and 500 killings and inane American nerd jokes.

Kate of Brisbane 3:17pm November 19, 2008

Just a film, gang, just a film. How about we all take a step back, have a cup of chamomile tea, realise that it's just one individual artistic endeavour, that maybe it's not all about us, perhaps even go and see the film then we can all calmly go back to our work finding cures for cancer, global peace and researching rocket science. A big thank you to all those who have selflessly taken the time out from their busy lives to share their heartfelt opinion that something that someone else has done might be shit. I hope the broadband setup on Baz Luhrman's yacht is enough to receive all our helpful suggestions and feedback.

possum of brisbane 2:52pm November 19, 2008

Am I going to like " Australia " I don't know, but I'll go and have a look. What I won't do is rubbish it, because it's called "Australia" ,has an Australian director and some Australian actors.Maybe I should sit back in my lycra, sipping a latte and take the piss out of it, without ofcourse seeing it. And for those who are ticked off at the name, check out the IMBD movie site sometime, there are 22 films and mini series called America. Strewth and crickey people, calm down, it's a film.

John of Darwin 2:41pm November 19, 2008

What a bunch of losers you lot are. The vast majority of you will say whatever nonsense is on your mind without being encumbered by actual facts, and the rest of you are so cynical it's a wonder you can get up in the morning. Apologies to the tiny handful who exhibit some degree of common sense. I have seen the movie and would agree with David's general assessment. I was a little disappointed that it dealt with Darwin's history so glibly, but overall it was still a good film that's worthy of our support. If you can't find the will to support Australian industry, at least have the decency to refrain from embarrassing us further.

Will of Sydney 2:04pm November 19, 2008

Saw the movie last nigh, the cinematography is fantastic, the landscapes etc are lovely, but the 'style' of the movie, the 'vibe', is just so out of whack with the subject matter, the cliches, the over-acting (they were obviously directed to act this way), this would win an Oscar if it was a silent film.

Objective of Sydney 1:16pm November 19, 2008

A defamation case on behalf of our proud and talented nation should be launched against Baz Luhrmann! To use the name "Australia" for this cringe-making pap is truly offensive. Why didn't he show some integrity and call it "Pleb Centrals' Big Night Out", or "Middle America, Can You Spare Me a Dime?"

Nellum of Sydney 12:48pm November 19, 2008

Rob of Brisbane, are you saying that only gay men can be nice????? Well hello Mr CLOSED MINDED!!! I'm going to see this movie, it should be entertaining. And while Yes, today's society live in cafe's sipping lattes, this was in the late 30's, in the far north, so how the hell would we know if it's realistic or not??? I'm looking forward to seeing some entertainment... it's just a movie people, relax.....

sean of concord 12:39pm November 19, 2008

This film has alarm bells going off me left right and centre. Beware any movie marketed as an 'epic' and which liberally uses phrases such as 'sweeping' , 'grand' and 'romantic'. Moulon Rouge was essentially a transposition of advertising imagery onto the big screen, and catered in true Baz style for people with all the depth of a puddle and the attention span of a gnat. It was one of the worst movies of all time. I still haven't forgiven Baz for the 2 hours or so of my life that I frittered away watching that drivel and I'm not going to take any chances this time. Baz's schtick has always been commercial banalities and cliches masquerading as kitchy art. Its why he's been able to develop a tourism commercial out of the movie. Nicole kidman as usual looks like a time worn manikin with recent facial reconstructions which just havent worked. Having to sit though 3 hours of this 'sweeping' guff for me would be the equivalent of going to the dentist for a similiar amount of time. And on top of all that its called Australia. Somebody tap baz on the shoulder for gods sake!

Robbo of Melbourne 12:38pm November 19, 2008

I haven't seen the movie, but I also haven't had the ebola virus and I definitely know I don't want that. For all those sick of the hype about this film and "our Nic" and "our Hugh" please join the Facebook group Australians Against Australia The Movie at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=15135448806

Robbo of Melbourne 12:37pm November 19, 2008

I haven't seen the movie, but I also haven't had the ebola virus and I definitely know I don't want that. For all those sick of the hype about this film and "our Nic" and "our Hugh" please join the Facebook group Australians Against Australia The Movie at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=15135448806

Neil of Melb 12:35pm November 19, 2008

Couldn't they have made a remake of Natural Born Killers instead?

Rohan 12:34pm November 19, 2008

You're all mad. There are more important things to get upset about than a movie and wether it is good, bad or indifferent. Here's a bit of advice - go to the movie, check your "intellectual brain" in as you buy your ticket, watch the movie without a care in the world and tell your your self it was 2.5 hours of storytelling, nothing else. Then put your brain back in and go back to the real world

Rohan 12:33pm November 19, 2008

You're all mad. There are more important things to get upset about than a movie and wether it is good, bad or indifferent. Here's a bit of advice - go to the movie, check your "intellectual brain" in as you buy your ticket, watch the movie without a care in the world and tell your your self it was 2.5 hours of storytelling, nothing else. Then put your brain back in and go back to the real world

KP of Sydney 12:21pm November 19, 2008

Andrew of Sydney, what an ugly comment to make. If liking the movie makes me a pleb, then so be it. Does that make me less worthy than you? Apparently so. It never ceases to amaze me why people insist on equating populist tastes with low intelligence. Get oer it, you snob.

KP of Sydney 12:21pm November 19, 2008

Andrew of Sydney, what an ugly comment to make. If liking the movie makes me a pleb, then so be it. Does that make me less worthy than you? Apparently so. It never ceases to amaze me why people insist on equating populist tastes with low intelligence. Get oer it, you snob.

Samantha Knoble of Sydney 12:11pm November 19, 2008

How sad to see the dumbing down of mass audiences through such fatuous interpretations of Australian history.

Sue of Terang 12:07pm November 19, 2008

Doesn't take long for the knockers to come out of the woodwork. Thanks David for your valued and measured opinion. Hope to see the movie on the big screen in order to appreciate the cinematography, ignore the hype and just go along for the ride.

Get real of Blue Mountains 12:02pm November 19, 2008

It is of no surprise to me that Australian films have trouble making money when you have idiots like some on this site making comments who have probable never had a creative idea in their life, but will try to bring a movie down before they have even seen it. How about going seeing the movie & how about you try & enjoy it for what it is entertainment!!! then come back & make your comments until then you just have no idea what your talking about.

Gusmao of Newcastle 11:35am November 19, 2008

I know the film is called 'Australia' and in part is a reflection of a part of our 'history' and 'culture', but it is still a work of 'fiction', people, no need to get shirty. No wonder everyone is lamenting the demise of mainstream success of Australian films. Film makers are caught between a rock and a hard place. Either be criticised for being too 'real' or be lambasted for being too 'fictional'. Where we we find our happy medium

Arthur of Sydney 11:21am November 19, 2008

It is unquestionably the MOST DISAPPOINTING Australian film of the past 30-40 years! Please STAY AWAY FROM IT!! Don't waste your money or time on this unimaginative, cliched dross. T We have a bounty of talent in the Oz film industry, and SO much more could have been done with it that fund this yawn.

LA girl of USA 11:06am November 19, 2008

The movie is pure shite....the marketing is pure hype...and how dare thar closet director use the name of my country to market a film!!! MLC

tony of gosford 10:44am November 19, 2008

$150 million!! I'd like to see the internet used as the main film distribution outlet, so that story values and not 'marketed endings' could prevail.

Matt of Kensington 10:31am November 19, 2008

Baz knows his audience, which for some reason likes to tar the whole country with its benighted kultcha. The film should have been called New South Wales. Like a lot of the definitive NSW output, it certainly makes you proud to be Victorian!

Darling1 of sydney 9:56am November 19, 2008

Tony of Canberra you are so right!! And what a joke to think that this sort of film could be seen to "represent" Australia. Quite insulting really! Most Aussies haven't even seen the outback...I know, I run a tour company!! Australians mostly live in urban areas and drink lattes while playing with their mobile phones. flicks of Paddington is on the money when he/she says Baz is a lightweight...this "Australia" is a poorly conceptualized dream!!

Andrew of Sydney 9:51am November 19, 2008

I saw the film at the premiere last night and it is indeed a big, camp and cliched disappointment. The plebs will love it.

Katya of Sydney 9:51am November 19, 2008

Mongrel of Sydney - please tell me you're Aboriginal in saying that, otherwise I don't think you can make any comment on how you think the Aboriginal people should be portrayed. Given Aboriginal actors played the roles of Aboriginal characters in the movie - I think they're in a far greater position to agree or not as to how their own have been portrayed. Also noted was the Aboriginal flag flying at the Sydney premiere yesterday - indicating there's more support from that community than your comment suggests. I, for one, want to reserve comment for the movie until I've seen it. While I understand the trepidation expressed by some regarding this movie - the actual outright abhorrence that also seems to be expressed by others is baffling to me. At least take a cue from the professional critics and wait until you have seen it before criticising - otherwise settle for saying "its a movie that wouldn't interest me" and leave it at that.

rob of brisbane 9:38am November 19, 2008

nicole is overrated. hugh seems a nice guy. perhaps too nice. is he gay ?

Beavman of NSW 9:19am November 19, 2008

Folks, until quite recently I was as cyncial as the next person - when the studios talk up a movie you suspect you have a dog on your hands. And so, when the studios moved into top gear promoting Dark Knight on the back of Heath Ledger' death, I cynically thought that they were masking a crook movie/ performance with a sympathy vote. How wrong was I! Heath Ledger's performance was Gold! So, I am going to see Baz's Australia with no pre-conceptions and enjoy it (or otherwise) for what it is - 165 minutes of entertainment!

Saffy of Sydney 9:17am November 19, 2008

I'm trying to ignor the publicity and plan to judge the film on its own merits, as a narrative film. As for Tourism chiefs betting on this film to revive the industry, it's just another example of the total absence of vision and leadership from a tired and desperate administration. It's time for generational change in the Australian tourism industry (and perhaps the film industry too).

dinerouk of Doncaster, UK 3:32am November 19, 2008

The Time said it was 'Good but not great' also

Mack 3:08am November 19, 2008

Doric of Melbourne, Yes and I suppose you have to point out our flaws these days for it to be considered art? Give this guy/gal a Prozac already, I for one am tired of the constant guilt laden scripts! You know, it is ok to be of European descent and have some pride in our culture%u2019s accomplishments which far exceed our failings. We are certainly aware of our past without having to spend millions to highlight them once more. MOVE ON ALREADY!

Ed of Perth 12:21am November 19, 2008

In an interview, Luhrmann compared the bombing of Darwin depicted in the film to America's Pearl Harbour. He'd better hope it doesn't get the same response at the box office.

Tall One of Sydney 12:17am November 19, 2008

I have just seen it - went to the premier. Frankly, I was execting it to be crap. It wasn't. David Stratton's criticisms are probably justified; reader's comments are as well - it is very commercial and I think will be well received by the American market. Who cares about any of this. It was entertaining and enthralling and so many movies aren't these days. Also, Nicole Kidman actually acted (who would have guessed she could?!) and was very much the star of the show. It is well worth seeing.

Sandgroper of Perth 12:08am November 19, 2008

I sincerely hope the movie lives up to half its expectations otherwise we will become the worlds' best cultural cringe. I think its great that the film is set in war time Darwin. Something the Yanks need to learn about for all their hype and myth making about Pearl Harbour. The imperial Japanese sent a sledgehamer to crack an eggshell on this one. Three times as many warplanes on one raid on Darwin than on Pearl Harbour all told.

pedro of darwin 12:05am November 19, 2008

Thank you David, Quite glad that no one has really ripped into you (yet) for giving an honest appraisal. No matter the end result, I am very happy that the bombing of Darwin has finally been given a place in mainstream film production. Regardless of the supposed end game of Japanese Imperialism, and recent bugle-blowing of the so-called 'battle for Australia', it is nevertheless important to tell the story of a city hit harder than any other in this wide brown land, both by nature and man. One does not need to travel to Gallipoli to absorb the spirit of this country. Come to the Territory and meet some blackfellas and whitefellas who can tell you a thing or two. Actually don't even ask....just listen and learn.

Emily of Newcastle 11:53pm November 18, 2008

It's only being hailed as an epic because we have been brainwashed by the pre-publicity to think we have to see it as such. Even David sounds a little uneasy expressing the criticisms he does. It's sad to think this film, whether it's good, bad or, most likely, mediocre, may succeed only because of the copious amounts of money poured into marketing it whereas very some good and genuinely Australian films never see the light of day because their makers do not have similar amounts of money to spend on telling people how good the movie is.

Doric of Melbourne. 11:15pm November 18, 2008

Blatant propaganda dross, aimed at whipping up patriotic fervor as the war in the Middle East is about to be escalated. Patriotism, as they say, is the last refuge of the scoundrel, in a country headed by scoundrels

Michael of Stratfield 11:14pm November 18, 2008

GO AND SEE THIS FILM-IT'S FABULOUS !!.I went to a preview last night and while David is correct in his criticisms he's talking from the point of a critic-the general public don't delve into films that heavily. The scenery, filming is absolutely spectacular. I promise you-you have never seen Australia filmed like this before. The story is great and the acting terrific. Nicole is really good, Hugh Jackman-well I bet the ladies will love him.Little Brandon Walters is a real find and should go on to have a great career. I felt very proud after the preview to be an Aussie. I reckon the Yanks, the Brits and Eurpeans will love Australia.

ali66 of melbourneq 10:50pm November 18, 2008

havent seen the movie but usually anything as hyped up as this usually disappoints for mine - it just cant live up to whats promised. From the few clips I have seen the accents sound terrible - totally cringe-worthy - why did Hugh and Nicole do that - or do they get better as it goes along? I will go and see it as I usually like Baz's work but I'm not expecting too much - more interested in the locations and cinematography.

Andrew Smith of Budapest 10:48pm November 18, 2008

I think Australia is putting an awful lot of psychological baggage, expectations etc. into this film.....why? Tourism Australia has a cargo cult mentality hoping it will save their bacon while the rest of Australia is forever searching for someone or something to tell them who they are......

flicks of Paddington 10:19pm November 18, 2008

Saw Baz interviewed on the 7.30 report tonight. He seems very much a lightweight so I guess we shouldn't expect much from this film.I thought 'Romeo & Juliet' was poorly conceived (but a great script!) and 'Moulin Rouge' appalling so I must be biased.

Marty of Malvern 9:46pm November 18, 2008

Jack of Sydney, what an outrageous thing to say when you haven't even seen the film. It's not a dog. It's a turkey. Or a lemon.

High Plains Drifter of Acacia Gardens 9:34pm November 18, 2008

I thought Moulin Rouge was recherché and contrived. So I see what David Stratton might mean with the opening 20 minutes or so and being a Baz Luhrmann job. Having said that I look forward to seeing it on the big screen, especially with hype on par with an Andre Rieu gig.

Tony of Canberra 9:17pm November 18, 2008

I am uncomfortable with the name of a country been used for a title for a movie. Which clown in government gave Bazza the right to copyright our country? If I want to use Australia as a title for a documentary or for another piece of artistic work is Bazza's lawyers going to come knocking on my door. Australia is not a plaything.

MM Fike 8:53pm November 18, 2008

James Cameron's Titanic got some ordinary reviews but it made vast amounts of money. It wasn't a classic movie but millions of movie goers loved it. I truly hope Australia does the same as Titanic. For the cast, crew and everyone else involved I wish Australia to be the success they deserve.

John Fox of BrisVegas 8:14pm November 18, 2008

Who cares what those tossers from SBS think. Baz made it and it's going to be a great movie.

dabtar of new south wales 7:36pm November 18, 2008

It sounds very much like a film that would have gone down well with an australian audience 30 or 40 years ago with "Chips Raffety" in the lead male role ?.

Kim of Newcastle 7:21pm November 18, 2008

I, for one, am looking forward to seeing "AUSTRALIA" which has a promise of being a cross between the Charles Chevall and Ken Hall classics, "Heritage" and "Sons of Mathew","Dad Rudd M.P" and "We of the Never Never". I don't care if it is slanted to the international market, after all it needs to make money, I'm sure our friends overseas will love it and (maby) be on the next flight here to see our wonderful country for themselves, our country called "AUSTRALIA"

birdie of melbourne 6:58pm November 18, 2008

I think it will be great to see the sweeping scenes of the outback but Nicole Kidman always looks and acts like 'Nicole Kidman'. She never seems to be able to really 'get into character' and her performances are always very wooden. However, I DO look forward to seeing Bryan Brown, Bill Hunter, David Wenham, Ben Mendelson, Arthur Dignam, Hugh Jackman and Brandon Walters. I do wish Baz had cast a 'proper Australian'...an actress who was born here in Australia and stays here to live and work instead of Hollywood celeb Kidman.

Jack of Sydney 6:54pm November 18, 2008

Knew it. It's a dog.

Concerned of Sydney 6:54pm November 18, 2008

I have just been waiting for the "Tall Poppy Syndrome" to attack this movie. If Baz has aimed this at an international audience, especially the US so be it - that's where the money is (even in uncertain economic times). The film may fail but let's see what happens. Love David Stratton and value his comments. (I loved Across the Universe too!)

Simon Coates of Sydney 6:44pm November 18, 2008

I read somewhere that Kevin Rudd plays a snide, comical, charmless, double-talking talking grey-haired Koala in Australia. Come to think of it, I've read it everywhere...

Ian Wilson of Perth 6:31pm November 18, 2008

Here we go again, myth replacing reality and in the process, why don't we make a new history. We are really very famous for it.

007 Fan 6:24pm November 18, 2008

Sounds like a chick-flick. Is Meryl Streep in it too? Aaaaghhhh!!

mongrel of sydney 6:15pm November 18, 2008

If Baz Luhrmann makes a film called AUSTRALIA, then it has to epitomize our country and it has to be a showpiece. I have not seen the film of course but from the trailers, the aboriginal people seem like they're dealt with like on those black velvet paintings. Or in souvenir shops at airports. Is this really the image of our indigenous people we want the rest of the world to see? I think Baz Luhrmann is a great director, but doing a theatrical film about nature is a tough ask.

sirlounge of perth 6:07pm November 18, 2008

or chips rafferty?

sirlounge of perth 6:05pm November 18, 2008

ihave not seen a good aussie movie yet since mad max and that was along time ago

sirlounge 6:02pm November 18, 2008

why in australia do we have to make boring movies about cattle and the out back 99% of the population live in the citys or on the coastal towns its crap the hot sun and flies nothin romantic about that

Glenn of NSW 5:50pm November 18, 2008

I haven't seen the movie but I'm not taking any notice of a paid professional who's main objective is to find fault with movies. To me it looks pretty good from the trailers and there will always be someone standing on the sidelines banging on they would have done it differently. Sorry David but to me you sound like your sitting on the fence.

Marion Hosking of Taree NSW 2430 5:22pm November 18, 2008

I am sick of the carping and sniping that has gone on regarding AUSTRALIA long before it has even been shown. It is as if people want it to fail. Why is this? Why cannot they just go 'to the pictures' and enjoy it for what it is; entertainment?I look forward to AUSTRALIA mainly because I am a Baz Lurhman fan from the days of Strictly Ballroom. I appreciate the beautiful actors but directors are the most important element in any good film.The only quibble I have is our reliance on USA money and distribution and all that conveys.

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