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Australia – What is the opposite of epic?

Submitted by on January 26, 2009 – 4:43 amNo Comment

australia_movieI feel abused and it is solely Baz Luhrmann’s fault! There is nothing worse in when publicists claim that their movie is “epic”. For us to truly gain an understanding of this, we need to start looking at dictionary definitions. The Oxford English dictionary lists one of the definitions of “epic” as: “heroic or grand in scale or character”.

This definition is not adequate enough to describe Australia. In fact a better definition for this movie is that of “Montage”. Wikipedia claims this to be “a technique in film editing in which a series of short shots is edited into a sequence to condense narrative”. This is a much better description since most of the important plots are hidden in music-video like scenes.

So how did Baz Luhrmann (the genius behind the Romeo and Juliet movie) manage to get to a point where I am trying to calculate the of “epic”? Well the answer will lie ahead, as Australia (the film, not the country) is systematically broken down into its individual constructs.


Set in northern Australia before World War II, an English aristocrat who inherits a sprawling ranch reluctantly pacts with a stock-man in order to protect her new property from a takeover plot. As the pair drive 2,000 head of cattle over unforgiving landscape, they experience the , Australia, by Japanese forces firsthand.


It is a brave person who decides to name a movie after the country that it is based in. Australia stars Hugh Jackman (finally playing an Aussie) and Nicole Kidman (stupidly playing a Briton). I can only imagine that the very point of this “epic” was to describe the harshness, yet beauty of Australia whilst fitting in a romance tale. Every single person I have ever known would not disagree that Australia is a beautiful country. There is no doubt about that. Unfortunately, this movie feels as if you are watching a 165 minute tourism video. Perhaps that is a bit too much. Especially since we have paid for the privilege.

It seems as if Luhrmann wanted to tell a story, yet was in a rush to do so. This seems strange because at 2 hours and 45 minutes you’d think he would have enough time. Clearly not it seems,  as most of the film is played through montages in order to get to the point. Unfortunately, the point is never achieved, or at least by the two hour mark, you don’t care a flying fig whether the conclusion is reached or not. In fact, you hope that it’ll be one of those movies that leave you wondering what it was all about. It worked for No Country For Old Men so why not for Australia? If you can’t think of a satisfactory ending then why bother? The Coens didn’t!

For those of you thinking that Hollywood is all about how you look, you may question why Hugh Jackman is not more famous. He certainly looks the part (as he did in this film); all macho and toned. He reminds me greatly of Clint Eastwood in his looks and yet doesn’t gain the attention that perhaps he deserves. Is this because he seems to take everything that is offered to him? Is he under the impression that it is best to accept EVERY role that passes his way, in case he misses a hit? This (I feel (has been his downfall) because for some reason I can’t really fathom, the likes of seem to be hitting unnecessarily heights and yet he is stuck playing in this flick .

I understand that Luhrmann (writer and director) is clearly a capable individual, but being human he is susceptible to making quite hideous mistakes. Australia feels very much as if after five minutes he had realised that this was a VERY BIG MISTAKE.

I had expected more shots to have been on location and there is a large amount of studio work (perhaps reshoots?). The lighting gives this away greatly as we see Hugh Jackman standing in front of what is unmistakably a painting of the horizon. Why use a studio when you have named the title of the movie after the country? Is Australia not a large enough palette for you Mr Luhrmann?

If you are expecting to see Kangaroos, everyone saying “mate”, “billabong”, “wallaby”, “fair dinkum” etc, then you will not be disappointed. The film is so full of these stereotypes that you’d think it was written by someone who hadn’t actually gone there (not something we can let Luhrmann off, since he is an Australian himself). If this is his idea of showing off his country, I might as well grab a camera phone and wander around London taking pictures of Beefeaters, pigeons and the odd idiot wearing a bowler hat. These things do not represent my country. They are merely what you believe represents my country.

How I would to continue to rant about this pathetic excuse for an epic. How I would love to beg you all not to waste your: Lovefilm / Blockbusters / Netflix subscription on this movie. In fact the only audience I can honestly say would enjoy this cliché ridden rubbish is those of you who enjoyed The Thorn Birds. For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, be grateful. In fact for the three of you (or so) in the world who enjoy Mills & Boon and the cry-athon named The Thorn Birds, I would suggest you go back to reading those books or watching that miniseries (you can buy it on DVD). This is because I rate The Thorn Birds way above this (and I HATE The Thorn Birds). This is not just mediocre. This is a blatant attempt at combining “winning” ingredients to make the perfect Soufflé. Unfortunately we have all had a better soufflé and this merely feels like a cheap copy. Useless!


If you have not figured out whether I like this movie or not you are either too lazy to read the above or have the attention of a goldfish. For those of you who come under the latter classification, let me reiterate in simple, plain English “DON’T BOTHER!” I will not be held responsible for you paying to see this attempt at romantic trash.

To answer the above question, “what is the opposite of epic?” The opposite of “epic” is banal; and the definition of banal is Australia (the film, not the country). You care so little for the cast that you hope all and sundry get blown by the Japanese. It is a weak story with weak direction and it is making me angry just thinking about it……arghh!

Rating: 0.5 out of 5

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