Weekly Film Recap #13 (Australian New Wave)

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In the years following the New Hollywood movement in America, Australia began making extreme waves in the world of cinema very similar to their western counterparts in Hollywood. Young Australian filmmakers began to notice how Hollywood directors of the late 60s were beginning to make more personal, artistic, and explicit films. In 1971, Australia introduced the “R” rating to their rating system and started offering more extreme tax cuts for films produced in the Land Down Under. All of this, combined, led to a wave of Australian filmmakers busting out of the woodwork in the early 1970’s, all eager to make more sexual, violent, and personal films! The result was the formation of the Australian New Wave!

Wake in Fright     (dir. Ted Kotcheff)   Ted Kotcheff’s  Wake in Fright  is one of the very early films of the Australian New Wave (and Ozploitation) movement. The story follows John, a schoolteacher in a small outback town who makes his way to to the run-down mining town of Yabba to catch a train to Sydney to spend holiday with his girlfriend. However, while in the Yabba, John’s mental and physical wellbeing slowly starts to decay as his life grows more dependent on the gambling and boozing that keeps the Yabba alive.   Wake in Fright  is one of the more psychologically disturbing films to ever come out of Australia. In fact, it even features a brutally real scene where a drunken group of Yabba natives go out into the outback to snipe down Kangaroos… And yes, the kangaroos being shot were 100% real. Ted Kotcheff actually tagged along with a group of kangaroos hunters, while it was still legal, to record them as they spent the night drinking and terrorizing the innocent kangaroos of the Australian outback.   Wake in Fright  is one of the most brutally honest character studies in cinema and it captured all the qualities of the newly introduced Australian New Wave movement in one dark, violent, and personal story. Along with  Walkabout ,  Wake in Fright  truly helped set the standard for masterful filmmaking in Australia.    5/5     WATCH: Prime Video & YouTube

Wake in Fright

(dir. Ted Kotcheff)

Ted Kotcheff’s Wake in Fright is one of the very early films of the Australian New Wave (and Ozploitation) movement. The story follows John, a schoolteacher in a small outback town who makes his way to to the run-down mining town of Yabba to catch a train to Sydney to spend holiday with his girlfriend. However, while in the Yabba, John’s mental and physical wellbeing slowly starts to decay as his life grows more dependent on the gambling and boozing that keeps the Yabba alive.

Wake in Fright is one of the more psychologically disturbing films to ever come out of Australia. In fact, it even features a brutally real scene where a drunken group of Yabba natives go out into the outback to snipe down Kangaroos… And yes, the kangaroos being shot were 100% real. Ted Kotcheff actually tagged along with a group of kangaroos hunters, while it was still legal, to record them as they spent the night drinking and terrorizing the innocent kangaroos of the Australian outback.

Wake in Fright is one of the most brutally honest character studies in cinema and it captured all the qualities of the newly introduced Australian New Wave movement in one dark, violent, and personal story. Along with Walkabout, Wake in Fright truly helped set the standard for masterful filmmaking in Australia.

5/5

WATCH: Prime Video & YouTube

Walkabout     (dir. Nicolas Roeg)   One of the biggest aspects of the Australian New Wave came with the filmmakers ability to portray Australian culture without having to worry about censoring themselves. Where  Wake in Fright  showed the honest brutality of Australian culture,  Walkabout  shows how deeply rooted and beautiful their culture is.   Walkabout  is about two young English siblings who are taken out into the outback with their father for a picnic. All is well until the father goes crazy and burns down their car and shoots himself in the head, leaving the two young siblings to survive in the exhausting Australian outback by themselves. As the two venture through the vast Australian outback, they come across a young aboriginal boy, played by Gulpilil, on a walkabout. Seeing as how this young boy is their only source of safety, they entrust their lives to him as he shows them how to live off the land.  Nicoals Roeg’s direction in  Walkabout  is unmatched as he gracefully contrasts life as an aborigine with life as a city dweller. By far one of the most important films about the Australian culture to ever come out,  Walkabout  still holds up and forces you to re-evaluate your perspective on life.    5/5     WATCH: iTunes

Walkabout

(dir. Nicolas Roeg)

One of the biggest aspects of the Australian New Wave came with the filmmakers ability to portray Australian culture without having to worry about censoring themselves. Where Wake in Fright showed the honest brutality of Australian culture, Walkabout shows how deeply rooted and beautiful their culture is.

Walkabout is about two young English siblings who are taken out into the outback with their father for a picnic. All is well until the father goes crazy and burns down their car and shoots himself in the head, leaving the two young siblings to survive in the exhausting Australian outback by themselves. As the two venture through the vast Australian outback, they come across a young aboriginal boy, played by Gulpilil, on a walkabout. Seeing as how this young boy is their only source of safety, they entrust their lives to him as he shows them how to live off the land.

Nicoals Roeg’s direction in Walkabout is unmatched as he gracefully contrasts life as an aborigine with life as a city dweller. By far one of the most important films about the Australian culture to ever come out, Walkabout still holds up and forces you to re-evaluate your perspective on life.

5/5

WATCH: iTunes

Mad Dog Morgan     (dir. Philippe Moran)   It seems only fitting that Dennis Hopper, at the peak of his raging alcoholism, played the Australian bushranger legend Mad Dog Morgan.   Mad Dog Morgan  gives audiences a look at the life of one of Australia’s most erratic and violent figures as he hides in the Australian Bush from authorities who have put a bounty on him. Mora takes full advantage of the new rating system in Australia to portray an uncensored, bloody look at Morgan’s pillaging of the Australian bush in this Australian take on the Western.      4/5     WATCH: Prime Video

Mad Dog Morgan

(dir. Philippe Moran)

It seems only fitting that Dennis Hopper, at the peak of his raging alcoholism, played the Australian bushranger legend Mad Dog Morgan.

Mad Dog Morgan gives audiences a look at the life of one of Australia’s most erratic and violent figures as he hides in the Australian Bush from authorities who have put a bounty on him. Mora takes full advantage of the new rating system in Australia to portray an uncensored, bloody look at Morgan’s pillaging of the Australian bush in this Australian take on the Western.

4/5

WATCH: Prime Video

The Last Wave     (dir. Peter Weir)   Peter Weir is easily one of the most revered Australian directors to emerge from the Australian New Wave. So much so, in fact, Weir went on to direct some of the biggest US films like The Truman Show and Dead Poet’s Society! But, before then he made an eternally impactful Australian film called The Last Wave.  The Last Wave taps into the submersive dreamworld that guides the tribal aborigines in Australia as a city attorney begins seeing strange premonitory dreams involving himself, a mysterious aboriginal, and a destructive flood. While Weir found a great deal of success with films like Dead Poet’s Society, The Last Wave seems more fitting as the magnum opus of his career.  The most important aspect, to me, of the Australian New Wave is the filmmaker’s ability to relate a foreign culture to someone across the world. Along with  Wake in Fright  and  Walkabout ,  The Last Wave  is  the  essential Australian Film.    5/5     WATCH: iTunes

The Last Wave

(dir. Peter Weir)

Peter Weir is easily one of the most revered Australian directors to emerge from the Australian New Wave. So much so, in fact, Weir went on to direct some of the biggest US films like The Truman Show and Dead Poet’s Society! But, before then he made an eternally impactful Australian film called The Last Wave.

The Last Wave taps into the submersive dreamworld that guides the tribal aborigines in Australia as a city attorney begins seeing strange premonitory dreams involving himself, a mysterious aboriginal, and a destructive flood. While Weir found a great deal of success with films like Dead Poet’s Society, The Last Wave seems more fitting as the magnum opus of his career.

The most important aspect, to me, of the Australian New Wave is the filmmaker’s ability to relate a foreign culture to someone across the world. Along with Wake in Fright and Walkabout, The Last Wave is the essential Australian Film.

5/5

WATCH: iTunes

Mad Max     (dir. George Miller)   Mel fuckin’ Gibson. What else is there to say about this legendary, yet controversial actor that hasn’t already been said? Before Braveheart and Passion of the Christ, a young eager actor was cast in a low-budget exploitation film that would change his life forever.   Mad Max  is one of the ultimate stories of vengeance, perfectly melded together with all the off the wall characteristics of Australian cinema. Exaggerated car chases, explosions, and idiosyncratic characters are at the forefront of  Mad Max , and it’s because of these things that it turned into such an international success. So much so, that  Mad Max  has become deeply ingrained in our own pop culture.  Gibson has had quite a lot of roles since, but none have seemed to be quite as perfect as Mad Max, the role Gibson was born to play!    4.5/5     WATCH: iTunes

Mad Max

(dir. George Miller)

Mel fuckin’ Gibson. What else is there to say about this legendary, yet controversial actor that hasn’t already been said? Before Braveheart and Passion of the Christ, a young eager actor was cast in a low-budget exploitation film that would change his life forever.

Mad Max is one of the ultimate stories of vengeance, perfectly melded together with all the off the wall characteristics of Australian cinema. Exaggerated car chases, explosions, and idiosyncratic characters are at the forefront of Mad Max, and it’s because of these things that it turned into such an international success. So much so, that Mad Max has become deeply ingrained in our own pop culture.

Gibson has had quite a lot of roles since, but none have seemed to be quite as perfect as Mad Max, the role Gibson was born to play!

4.5/5

WATCH: iTunes

Crocodile Dundee     (dir. Peter Faiman)    Crocodile Dundee  isn’t much of an artistic statement or contribution to the world of cinema, but it is perhaps one of the biggest films to come out of Australia. This classic 80’s comedy stars Paul Hogan as a croc-poaching Aussie who finds himself struggling to adjust to life in New York City!  Crocodile Dundee  was deliberately made in attempt to create an Australian-produced film that would appeal to American audiences, but little did they know that it would turn into such a world-wide phenomenon.   Crocodile Dundee  went on to be the highest grossing film of all time in Australia and was actually the second highest grossing film in the US in 1986! Hogan’s character gave the mass population an Australian figure they could attach themselves to, even if many might have found him to be an embarrassing portrayal of Australia. Nonetheless, it showed that Australia is just as much a force to be reckoned with as any other country producing films! In fact, it’s become such a prominent product of Australian cinema, that to this day, it continues to be rebooted.    3/5     WATCH: iTunes

Crocodile Dundee

(dir. Peter Faiman)

Crocodile Dundee isn’t much of an artistic statement or contribution to the world of cinema, but it is perhaps one of the biggest films to come out of Australia. This classic 80’s comedy stars Paul Hogan as a croc-poaching Aussie who finds himself struggling to adjust to life in New York City! Crocodile Dundee was deliberately made in attempt to create an Australian-produced film that would appeal to American audiences, but little did they know that it would turn into such a world-wide phenomenon.

Crocodile Dundee went on to be the highest grossing film of all time in Australia and was actually the second highest grossing film in the US in 1986! Hogan’s character gave the mass population an Australian figure they could attach themselves to, even if many might have found him to be an embarrassing portrayal of Australia. Nonetheless, it showed that Australia is just as much a force to be reckoned with as any other country producing films! In fact, it’s become such a prominent product of Australian cinema, that to this day, it continues to be rebooted.

3/5

WATCH: iTunes

Dead Calm     (dir. Phillip Noyce)   Before Nicole Kidman became one of the world’s biggest actresses, before Sam Neill starred in Jurassic Park, and before Billy Zane started in Titanic, there was  Dead Calm ! The film follows Kidman and Neill as a married couple who set sail into the Pacific after the loss of their daughter. Everything is fine until a strange man in a raft makes his way to the couple’s boat, telling them that his boat has capsized. His story has holes and Sam Neil’s character soon finds out that everyone on the capsized boat was mysteriously murdered.  Noyce does a brilliant job at creating suspense and sustaining it for 90 minutes, which is not as easy as it sounds when your characters are in one location the whole film. The actors are also deserving of recognition for helping the story move forward in a situation where most other actors tap out about halfway through.  Dead Calm doesn’t really revel in it’s Australian heritage as much as some of the films that predated it in the 70’s, but its gripping story and intriguing characters make for an internationally respected thriller starring some of the soon-to-be biggest names of film!    4/5     WATCH: iTunes

Dead Calm

(dir. Phillip Noyce)

Before Nicole Kidman became one of the world’s biggest actresses, before Sam Neill starred in Jurassic Park, and before Billy Zane started in Titanic, there was Dead Calm! The film follows Kidman and Neill as a married couple who set sail into the Pacific after the loss of their daughter. Everything is fine until a strange man in a raft makes his way to the couple’s boat, telling them that his boat has capsized. His story has holes and Sam Neil’s character soon finds out that everyone on the capsized boat was mysteriously murdered.

Noyce does a brilliant job at creating suspense and sustaining it for 90 minutes, which is not as easy as it sounds when your characters are in one location the whole film. The actors are also deserving of recognition for helping the story move forward in a situation where most other actors tap out about halfway through.

Dead Calm doesn’t really revel in it’s Australian heritage as much as some of the films that predated it in the 70’s, but its gripping story and intriguing characters make for an internationally respected thriller starring some of the soon-to-be biggest names of film!

4/5

WATCH: iTunes