Published 10 December 200810 December 2008 · Main Posts Australia and Australian Film Rjurik Davidson Over at the Age, Peter Costello is holding forth about Baz Luhmann’s film Australia. In Costello’s eyes, ‘As a love story the Baz Luhrmann film Australia is pretty good. If only the filmmaker had left it at that.’ Costello’s objection is, of course, that Luhmann’s film criticises the policy which resulted in the stolen generations. Costello criticises the historical accuracy of the film and writes: It ends by telling us that the policy of assimilation ended in 1973. (Nobody ever explained what that policy was). It tells us that the Government apologised to the stolen generations in 2008 (which solves the indigenous problem). But it doesn’t give us much other historical information. Such as what happened when the missions closed and the welfare system started. How a whole new generation of boys and girls like Nullah fared under that system. Certainly some of Costello’s points about the details of the film are well made. Nevertheless, details aside, his main target is Australia’s left-liberal politics. By quibbling with the details of the movie, Costello is actually criticising a political position. We might note that this technique has been used often by the right in the history wars. Still, there is something odd in the coexitence of the national hero depicted in the film, called the Drover (played by Hugh Jackman) and that character’s passionate defence of indigenous rights. Part of this oddity is perhaps the epic scale of the film, in which the characters don’t quite seem real, but rather seem like archetypes. I did wonder, anyway, just how plausible the character of the Drover is. He sits oddly in the film. For those more interested in a cinematic assessment of the film, I could recomment David Denby’s review in The New Yorker, which is most entertaining though probably a little too harsh. Denby, one of the sharpest film reviewers around, does a thorough critique of Luhmann’s style and its inability to adapt itself to the task he has set himself. Denby writes, for example: In his previous movie, “Moulin Rouge!,” his inability to stage anything clearly was disguised by spasmodic camera movements and abrupt cutting; the fragments were glued together to form a bumpy continuity of sorts. But in “Australia,” when not much is going on in the big open spaces, Luhrmann is lost. His camera sweeps along the ground as if searching for something, or, more frequently, it rises rapidly into the air while gazing downward—the receding ground might have been photographed from the space shuttle as it took off. But once Luhrmann is up in the air, where can he go? He can only cut to the ground again. Rjurik Davidson Rjurik Davidson is a writer, editor and speaker. Rjurik’s novel, The Stars Askew was released in 2016. Rjurik is a former associate editor of Overland magazine. He can be found at rjurik.com and tweets as @rjurikdavidson. More by Rjurik Davidson › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 10 November 202311 November 2023 · Subscriberthon 2023 On the final day of Subscriberthon, Overland’s most important members get to have their say Editorial Team BORIS A quick guide to another year of Overland, from your trusty feline, Boris. I liked the ginger cat story, though it made my human cry. I liked the talking cat, too, but I’m definitely in the “not wasting my time learning to talk” camp. But reading is good. And writing is fun, though it’s been challenging […] 1 First published in Overland Issue 228 9 November 20239 November 2023 · Subscriberthon 2023 On the second-last day of Subscriberthon, Overland’s co-chief editor Evelyn Araluen speaks truth to power Editorial Team To my friends and comrades, I’m not sure if there’s language to communicate how this last month has utterly changed me. This time a few weeks ago the busyness and chaos of bricolage arts and academic labour had so efficiently distracted me from my anxiety about the upcoming referendum that I forgot to prepare myself for its inevitable conclusion.