Oscar®Oscar® Nominee for Best Costume Design
Movie Review

Australia a.k.a. “Austrália”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence, a scene of sensuality, and brief strong language.

Reviewed by: Misty Wagner
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults, Teens
Genre:
Romance, Western, War, Action, Adventure, Drama
Length:
2 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
2008
USA Release:
November 26, 2008
DVD: March 3, 2009
Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

What are the consequences of racial prejudice and false beliefs about the origin of races? Answer

Racism, Racial Issues and Christianity
Get biblical answers to racial hot-topics. Where did the races come from? How did skin color come about? Why is it important to have a biblical foundation for such issues?
True love

What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Fear, Anxiety and Worry… What does the Bible say? Answer

Featuring: Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham, Bruce Spence, Bryan Brown, Jack Thompson, John Jarratt, Jacek Koman, Ben Mendelsohn, Bill Hunter, Essie Davis, Barry Otto, David Gulpilil, Wah Yuen, Brandon Walters, Nathin Butler, Kerry Walker, Ray Barrett, Sandy Gore, Matthew Whittet, Tony Barry, David Ngoombujarra, Jamie Gulpilil, Arthur Dignam, Eddie Baroo, Lillian Crombie, Crusoe Kurddal, Ursula Yovich, Sean Hall
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Moulin Rouge!”, “Strictly Ballroom,” “Romeo + Juliet”
Producer: Bazmark Films, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, G. Mac Brown, Catherine Knapman, Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Paul Watters
Distributor: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) is an English Aristocrat who spends her days among society and riding her horse amongst her illustrious estate. For some time now, her husband has been down under, at their Australian cattle farm aptly named Faraway Downs. Certain that it is excuses he presents to her for holding on to the the Australian property and not returning home, Sarah believes that he is instead attempting to cover up an adulterous relationship. With World War Two taking it’s toll on the world’s economy, Sarah decides to venture down to Faraway Downs herself, confront her husband and talk him into selling the property. Once there, however, Sarah finds that things are far worse than even her husband could have predicted.

With the help of a well experienced drover (an individual, similar to a cowboy, who herds animals over long distances) played by Hugh Jackman, and a recently orphaned bi-racial aborigine boy, Sarah sets out to rejuvenate Faraway Downs.

“Australia” confronts several important pieces of Australian history. The most consistently portrayed is that of the Indigenous Australian’s Stolen Generation. From a period beginning in the mid 1800’s and extending until 1973, the government strongly practiced the removal of Aborigine children from their families, and most often times put them into the practice of slavery for the wealthy whites of the nation. Not only was aboriginal racism prevalent, but often times Aborigine women were allowed to be possessed and taken by men whenever they chose. In regards to cattle droving, quite often the men would shave the heads of Aborigine women and dress them as men, for the purpose of having these women available sexually for the duration of the trip. A large percentage of these children taken were the products of such circumstances.

The other key part of this film’s historical retelling is that on February 19, 1942, Darwin, Australia was attacked by Japanese forces. These attacks were orchestrated by the same man who led the attacks on Pearl Harbor, two and a half months before. These attacks involved 188 attack aircraft and 54 land-based bombers.

Negatives

There is a slight scattering of profanity, with one (that I recall) blatant use of the F-word. There is an implied sex scene which does, briefly, display quite a bit of skin. Throughout many scenes involving Aborigines, their authentically accurate apparel doesn’t leave much to the imagination—often revealing completely unclothed backsides.

There are several scenes of injury, violence, war or murder. Though not overly graphic, there is still some gruesome imagery.

As with any other Baz Luhrmann film, the message derived from “Australia” is solely dependent upon the viewer. Baz made it clear, from the beginning, that the telling of the story of this stolen generation was very much at the heart of his movie. As I watched, (and criticized) the story’s unfolding, the one theme which seemed to make itself most noticeable to me was that of home and belonging. Home could be anything, from a structure where one lives to a tribe where one comes from. Home could be the love between two people, or the maternal bond between a woman and child. As this film addresses, again and again, the racial and bi-racial issues of historic Australia—we are shown that belonging doesn’t have as much to do with biological or tribal connection as it has to do with love, sacrifice and acceptance. There is a popular saying which states “Home is where your story begins,” and as the characters of this movie tell their story, it is quite clear to see that in many ways our own stories are our homes.

In an utterly vibrant and beautiful way, the audience is shown an epic film filled with tragedy, truth, unfairness, redemption, hope, sacrifice, loyalty and love. It would be nearly impossible for anyone to walk away from this film without something worth holding onto.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I am fairly selective about movies, and I thought this movie was very enjoyable and had nothing at all objectionable. An excellent choice for Christians.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Tim, age 41
Positive—Despite the over acting, “Australia” is an enjoyable movie. I’m happy as an Aboriginal Australian to see part of our story being told (reviewer: Aborigine is an offensive term, Aboriginal Person/People)
The scenery is beautiful and I loved King George and Nullah’s performances. Morally, nothing bothered me, but some people might be bothered by the rough characters who say “bloody” and swear a bit. No graphic sex scenes or graphic violence (though there is some in war scenes).
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Hayley, age 27 (Australian)
Positive—As a fan of Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, I went to see this movie with my mom. Both of us walked out quite impressed. Everything was well done save for some over-the-top CGI production and a few bits of corny dialogue. Although the bedroom scene was brief, it could’ve been eliminated, likewise with the f-bomb that Jackman’s character “drops” in a scene with Ivan the barkeeper.
The ending of the film seemed very pro-Christian to me as the verse from Matthew 16:26 states, 'For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?'
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Shannon H., age 27
Positive—I went to see this movie Sunday evening by myself, and it was the best movie I’ve seen in a long time. The beginning started a little weird but it was maybe the first two minutes. I must say it was a lot of action and love through-out the movie. The part I liked the most was how the actress (Nicole) found love to give to someone that was considered a creamy. That touched me it also showed how we must love each other regardless of race. This is by far the best movie of the year, and I think it is Oscar worthy.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Tracy, age 34
Positive—I couldn’t wait to see this movie… I went opening day with my husband. It was a long movie, but it held my attention, and the scenery is beautiful. The epic story of family, home, acceptance, and belonging resonated throughout the movie. I wish they could have eliminated the one really obvious swear word, but all in all, it was a movie that entertained and was worth seeing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Nan Nelson, age 52
Positive—I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It was (as I have come to expect from Luhrmann) beautifully put together without being over-acted or over-dramatized. I particularly liked receiving the story through the unique perspective of the Aboriginal child (Nallah), who narrates—unusual for a romance, but very effective in this case.

I was, however, surprised to see that the reviewer made very little mention of the film’s one obvious flaw, from a Christian standpoint: that an unmarried man and woman live together. This is different from an isolated “sex scene”—it is implied that they continue to live together and engage in intimate relations for the course of several years.

It is even commented on directly by the characters at one point—I don’t remember the exact wording, but they are discussing the townspeople’s censorship of people who associate with “the natives” or unmarried couples who live together. The two “taboos” are presented together as abhorrent and narrow-minded views. For Christian parents who are trying to determine this film’s suitability for children, this is worth mentioning.

That said, I still loved the film, and it does make a number of fantastic, biblically-grounded points for unconditional love and against racial discrimination. But think about your kids—be certain that they are mature enough to sort the moral messages from the immoral ones.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Rachael, age 22 (New Zealand)
Positive—The film “Australia” is truly amazing, a modern “Gone With the Wind” from the Outback and set to WWII. Baz Luhrmann has done a very well job directing the film and the on-location shooting is spectacular, showing the wide area and beauty of Australia. Nicole and Hugh are well cast as Sarah and the Drover and have a natural chemistry. Brandon Walters as Nullah is a great surprise as the films Narrator; he shows us the beauty of his home and culture.
Some areas of concern are a stampede early in the film, accurate costumes of the Aboriginal people (listed above), violence of the war and people killed in the process, and a love scene involving the two main characters.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Katherine, age 18
Positive—I thoroughly enjoyed this film! There were moments when I laughed and moments when I cried. Many of the scenes were not smoothly connected, and there was a lot of information crammed into just 3 hours, but otherwise the movie was well done. Other than Nicole Kidman, whom I don’t particularly enjoy as an actress, the casting was excellent. The relationships between the characters were especially poignant and I loved the way they used the dreams from the wizard of oz. I think all of the violence and much of the nudity was necessary for the film to be effective and it could have been a lot more offensive than it was—overall, it was a rather clean movie. I would recommend “Australia” to anyone over the age of 12.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Katie, age 24
Positive—I saw this movie with my husband and teenage daughter. We all enjoyed the film. The scenery was beautiful and the story was great regarding the total insanity of racism in this world and how love can conquer and give us strength and stamina is times of great adversity. It is a love story on several levels, romantic love, love for a child and love for people committed to a common cause for good. The little boy played an excellent role and was really the star of the movie, although I thought that Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman were well cast in their roles.
I gave it a better than average rating because the romance between Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman results in a sexual relationship outside of marriage. But the one scene in the movie where there is nudity was not offensive. I do not condone sex outside of marriage, but so many movies are so blatant with repetitive nudity and long scenes that I do find very offensive. The focus of this movie is not on the sex. Therefore, I do recommend this movie for adults and mature teens.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Cheryl Henderson, age over 50
Positive—One could describe this movie as a well made, riveting epic! Good acting, visually stunning, a fair rendition of the plight of the Aboriginal people and a historically sound view of the Japanese attack on Darwin. The characters were warm and well defined, particularly the Aboriginal actors. Brandon Walters, as young actors often do, stole the show! I suppose I could best describe “Australia” as a cross between an epic western (“Open Range”) and “Pearl Harbor.”
Morally, the use of one nasty piece of bad language and the relationship between the main actors was unfortunate and did sour the movie to some degree. But an epic none the less.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—John, age 50 (Australia)
Positive—Loved this film! I wasn’t very excited about going to this one, but left feeling so happy that I did! Yes, it was a bit “campy” at first, but as the story developed, and the underlying themes of love, family and homeland were woven together, the audience was drawn in and time flew by.

As for the one really offensive word, I have a different take on it from most other reviewers. No, I wouldn’t have liked my 13 yr. old son to hear it (or see the “love scene”), nor would I bring him to a PG-13 movie without viewing it first or reading trusted reviews. However, I understood the context of the word. The situation was highly charged, and the character on the receiving end deserved the utmost contempt. The drover certainly was not portrayed as being a Christian, or even a refined gentleman from whom less coarse language would be expected. Therefore, I didn’t feel it was gratuitous or out of place, and wasn’t as offended as I would ordinarily be. And I was pleasantly surprised that there weren’t more instances of the same as there are in most movies nowadays.

So—it was a funny, sad, exciting, epic movie about the power of love, with a touch of fantasy thrown in. Go see it!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—L Weir, age 50 (USA)
Positive—The slightly objectionable part of this movie were the references to the Wizard of Oz (which could have been excluded or substituted, as they weren’t even central to the movie). Aside from that, the movie was well done.… HOPEFULLY, everybody knows that you do not (under any circumstances) take the Lord’s name in vain and that witchcraft (sorcery, etc) is rebellion against God no matter who wrote the book or made the movie (though I am not too sure if people do these days). Do we really need to quote scripture on this?

As for people who are looking for a “totally clean” movie (without fornication, violence, war, historical wrongs, etc.) maybe they need to read the Bible. That brings me to the limitations of this movie (“Australia”) and many others. There is a definite lack of prayer and faith in God in these movies (even from the so-called men of God). “Ought to obey God rather than men.” Though surprisingly, in this movie, there is some mild faith in God from a “religiously dressed” man (that we are to assume is a believer by his dress and demeanor) near the end of the movie (in the course of saving the children from certain death).

My final word: If you are “enticed” to watch a Hollywood-made movie, from time to time, there are far worse choices (and this movie SHOULD NOT be grouped with them in the offensive category).
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jay B., age 35 (Canada)
Neutral
Neutral—It was a beautiful movie, great story and could be a great family gift when the DVD comes out. But as a mom, it bothered me that this was PG-13. What is PG-13, and who decides it? I may be too old-fashioned, but when I know that there are scenes (though short time) that shows the motion of someone’s hands that indicates sexual desires and then the next scene actually shows two adults in bed, full screen, I do not want to view it with my whole family. It takes tremendous talent, visions, time and money to make movies, and it is a gift! But I was upset, and that made my family upset after the movie because I just want our teenagers to see very moving and beautiful movie like this, without any sexual suggestions.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Abigail, age 46 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I found this movie so uninteresting and poorly made that I walked out after 1¼ hour. The characters were ill-defined—two-dimensional and inconsistent. The subject matter, which had many themes, was presented with a simplistic screenplay. I know quite a bit about Australian history, and I’ve seen better films about issues that are unique to that country, namely, treatment of the Aborigines (see the “Rabbit-Proof Fence”). I know the vistas were grand, but that is Australia, an amazing land full of extraordinary landscapes. Not artistically worthy.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Halyna, age 62
Negative—This movie is some director’s idea of merging “Out of Africa” with “Crocodile Dundee.” I thought it was almost campy. The acting seemed overdone. The CGI distracts from what could have been some sweeping vistas of Australia. The story line has potential, but is feels more like some scene snippets that someone thought of and then tried to tie them together into a story. One of the worst movies I have seen recently, at least from a cinematic standpoint.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Fred Lally, age 56 (USA)
Negative—The movie “Australia” was not how the commercials say it is. There is a lot of witch craft in the movie. The halve black, white boy is being taught through songs and hand movements to harness the spirits or “demons” and use them for good. Kinda like in the Harry Potter movies (there is NO SUCH THING AS WHITE AND BLACK MAGIC—all magic comes from Satan, and, yes, magic is very real, but I will not get into into), but the rest of the story was a good one, if they would have taken out all of the voodoo and sex. I DO NOT RECOMMEND WATCHING THIS MOVIE and if you do, DO NOT LET YOUR YOUNG CHILDREN WATCH IT.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Michael, age 19 (USA)
Negative—Baz Luhrmann wrote and directed this drivel with apparently no one to tell him when it became ridiculous, when it had tone problems and when his homosexual direction regarding the objectification of Hugh Jackman became annoying. And likewise his cardboard characters, especially of Nicole Kidman were not entertaining or meaningful.

Not to take away from the beauty of the photography and CGI and importance of the trials of the mixed aboriginal children, but seeing as he is bent on I am different, accept me as a political point of view savvy viewers can see why he wrote it from the kid’s point of view and left all the good and bad adults as mere caricatures.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Missy, age 40s (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—It was vary good! There was a few “cover you eyes” parts, but the balance was good with the action, romance, war, and all that stuff I was on the edge of my seat it has a good ending but vary sad in certain parts. but id defiantly own it!!! two thumbs up!!! but its not the kind of movie you bring you children too either. Good for a date, or a girls night out!! so see it!!! You’ll be glad you did!!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Brianna Garmon, age 15 (USA)
Negative—I have to admit that I only watched the first twenty minutes or so of this movie, I thought it was very confusing and I didn’t find the main characters very likeable at all. From what I saw, I thought Nichole Kidman was acting like a total retard most of the time. And I could tell that there was going to be a lot more “white man is bad” crap.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Kadie, age 17 (USA)
Positive—I LOVED this movie!!! It is 2 1/2 hours long and very worth every minute, in my opinion. It starts out as almost a comedy, then turns into a story of struggle and “overcoming the bad guy” (a wealthy cattle baron), then into a love story and you think it’s over, then it keeps on going for another hour!!!… It hits climax after climax, becoming a serious and tender love story, then into almost a war story with the bombing of the city of Darwin. I was laughing my head off at times and almost crying at others. It is comparatively clean, with only some language and one or two deep love scenes.

All around, I would recommend this movie to anyone over about 13 (who knows not to say those certain words) with 5 stars. But you have to watch the whole movie! Just seeing the beginning is totally misleading! All around it is one of the best new movies that I am aware of….
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jenny V., age 16 (USA)