Peter Finch, Errol Flynn, Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman, Heath Ledger, Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe - or how about ‘Ned Kelly', ‘Mad Max', ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock', ‘Shine' and ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert'? Australia has certainly made its mark on world cinema, something that's set to continue, judging by the number of Aussies milling around last year's Cannes Film Festival.
Most of the country's biggest stars are lured to Hollywood, but Australia has made some memorable films, across all genres. The recent Nicole Kidman blockbuster ‘Australia' (2008) was intended as a way to promote the country as a tourist destination but we've picked out five films which we think have done a lot more to define our image of the great Aussie nation!
Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
We were going choose the magnificent ‘Walkabout' (1971) with Jenny Agutter, as the film that put the Australian outback on the movie backdrop map. But then we realised it was British made. So we've gone for Peter Weir's ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock'. It's a dreamlike, unresolved, early 20th Century mystery, set against the hauntingly beautiful Hanging Rock in Victoria. Not really the outback, but the Australian landscape is definitely the star.
The Australian (and New Zealand) nation was forged on the bloody beaches of World War One Gallipoli. This film, again directed by Peter Weir, is about two friends who join up and unwittingly become part of the slaughter. It depicts an Australia in which young men's loyalty was to (British) empire, King and Country. Starring a young Mel Gibson, it may be slightly historically inaccurate, but it still encapsulates the birth of modern, independent Australia.
Crocodile Dundee (1986)
This is the movie that saw Australia ‘break America'. The New York adventures of Paul Hogan's ludicrous Aussie crocodile hunter became an instant comedy hit. Not least because Hogan's character gave hope to every unreconstructed middle-aged man in the world. The film was so popular during the 1980s, that Americans would often greet visiting Brits with the question, ‘what part of Australia are you from?'
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
The movie in which Australia ‘came out'. Images of macho beer swilling ‘ockers' are put on hold as three drag queens (two gay men and a transsexual woman) travel across the Australian Outback, from Sydney to Alice Springs in a coach they've named Priscilla. It's ‘Pink' Australia, produced in the same year as another offbeat Aussie comedy, ‘Muriel's Wedding'.
Rabbit Proof Fence (2002)
'Stolen generations' is the name given to the Aboriginal children who were separated from their parents by the State and put into 'residential schools'. This film is about two mixed race girls who, desperate to re-join their Aborigine families, run away and follow the route of a 2400 km long rabbit proof fence in the direction of home. White Australia's guilt about the Aborigines provides fertile ground for moviemakers and Rabbit Proof Fence is one of the best of the genre.
Remember it's not just Aussie films we cover here at FR2DAY! Check out our 'what's on' guide movie listings, as well as the latest film reviews and features, at your fingertips!