Friday, October 29, 2010

What if "Australia" Had Ended Here?

On this very day in 1939, Australia's Northern Standard incorrectly assumed that The Lady Ashley (Nicole Kidman) and her Drover (Hugh Jackman) had both perished in the Kuraman Desert!

Newspapers. They've always had it rough; The second you publish something it's ancient history.

Just as soon as this news was making the rounds the lady and her cattle driving man, rode into town in a cloud of triumphant dust and defeated their main rival. They won! Celebratoryparties, long delayed lovemaking and a return to the now thriving Faraway Downs followed.  After a short orgiastic montage of Australia's natural beauty (the country's and the movie's), the epic movie ends with a speech by the young narrator Nullah (Brandon Walters)
Just like Drover say 'that rain make everything come alive.' The land it grow green and fat and we all go back to Faraway Downs. Mrs Boss happy. Drover Happy. 

I hear for the first time that thing called Christmas. Then the rain, it stops. And then Drover, he go droving. The Mrs Boss, she always misses Drover. But I know, he's going to come back.

How perfect are these golden shots as closing romantic images?

Only there's no closing. The epic movie didn't end there, not on October 29th (and the cattle drive was already quite a movie) or with Nullah's first Christmas. Or even after the Drover went a-drovin' again, an amusingly brief montage which consists only of this leaving and returning, beautifully illustrating a family falling into its future pattern.

But there's a lot more adventure, World War II adventure, coming. There's roughly sixty more minutes of it. I've often thought that had Australia wrapped up with that three shot shown above and this clear romantic narrative about the formation of a family (after one hour and forty-three minutes of a rousing western adventure), the critics and audiences might have been kinder. Wasn't Australia's main sin only that it was desperately overstuffed, that it didn't trust that one adventure, one tone, or one lead character arc was enough and it had to pack in at least a few of everything? Sometimes less is more, even for gorgeous sun-kissed epic that aspire to the mythic.

Australia came out two years ago and though two years isn't a long time, you rarely hear people discuss this one anymore. Have any of you watched it recently? If you haven't seen it since its premiere, what is your most vivid memory of it?

No comments:

Post a Comment