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Film / Australia

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The longest tourism commercial ever.

For those interested in the country itself, you may wish to try TV Tropes' Australia: Useful Notes, Land Down Under, or view the search results for "Australia".

Set in the Northern Territory of the 1940s, Australia, director Baz Luhrmann's fourth feature film, centers around the lives of the English aristocrat Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman), a half-Aboriginal boy, Nullah, and an Australian known only by his occupation: Drover (Hugh Jackman). The trio, accompanied by friends, attempt to drove the herd of 2,000 cattle from the property to the army's meat ship in Darwin. The town, port and the island that Nullah was shipped to when Australia would send Aboriginal children to Christian Missions is subsequently bombed by the Japanese.

Did we mention that it's not only called Australia and set in Australia, but stars Australians, was directed by an Australian, funded by an Australian (albeit one with US citizenship), written by several Australians, filmed in Australia and premiered in Australia. In AUSTRALIA! note 

In 2022, it was announced that an expanded Mini Series version of the film would be produced, which would make use of unused footage from the original shoot and feature an alternate ending. Titled Faraway Downs, the new cut is set to premiere on Hulu and Star platforms in winter 2022-2023.

This movie has examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Kipling Flynn, the ranches accountant.
  • Anyone Can Die - A total of six plot-important characters die throughout the course of the movie. Seven if you count Drover's dog.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Fletcher is Nullah's father, cares nothing for the boy, and poses a major threat towards him throughout the movie.
  • Are We There Yet? - "How long till we reach Faraway Downs?"
  • Artistic License Economics - The cattle drive involves some 2000 head of cattle. An infantry division at this time would consume something like 3500 to 5000kg of meat, or 16 cattle, per day. The Australian army had three infantry division (6th, 7th and 9th) in the Middle East at this stage plus the 8th in the Pacific region, meaning this load of cattle would probably keep the army happy for about a month. Even assuming that the meat may not be directly for Australian soldiers overseas, food rationing in the rest of Australia was in place and the idea that 2000 cattle would not be able to find a buyer in this situation is interesting to say the least.
  • Artistic License History: Has its own page.
  • Artistic License Ships - Having re-used effects footage from another movie, the warships shown during the Japanese raid do not remotely resemble any USN or RAN ships present at the time. The largest US ships were USS Perry (a four stack destroyer, sunk with 88 dead) and USS William B Preston (a seaplane tender of similar size to Perry). Largest RAN warship was HMAS Platypus (an ex submarine depot ship being used as a floating base ship and resembling a merchantman.) None of these ships or any of the others had the large tripod mast seen on at least one ship during the raid sequence.
  • Awesome Aussie - The Drover; at least, that's what his character is supposed to be.
  • Best Friends-in-Law: Maggari, the Drover's friend and companion, is the brother of his late wife.
  • Cattle Drive - Of epic proportions. It takes up the first half of the movie or so.
  • Chekhov's Gun - The prelude notes about how Australia sent Half-Aboriginal children to Missions in order to "clean" them (culturally speaking). Of course Nullah gets sent away.
  • Chekhov's Skill - The Drover explains that cattle will fear a man standing alone and staring them in the eye. Guess how Nullah stops a cattle stampede?
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive - King Carney, and Neil Fletcher when he feeds King Carney to crocodiles so he can take over the business.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Upon arriving, Sarah is a fairly standoffish, towards both the hired hands and local society people like the Carney's. She develops over the course of the cattle drive.
  • Dies Wide Open - Sarah Ashley's husband is shown lying on a table, pierced by a spear, with his eyes open. Fletcher closes them.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him - Carney is killed mid movie during a montage.
  • The Dragon - Neil Fletcher is this to King Carney; later he becomes The Starscream.
  • Funny Background Event - When Lady Sarah Ashley arrives in the tavern and is talking to the bartender, behind her, outside of the tavern, the Drover is busy fighting.
  • Final Speech - After Kipling Flynn is violently trampled by the stampeding cattle, the barely-alive alcoholic tells the Drover to drink the bottle of whiskey that he smuggled, saying it would be "a terrible shame to waste it", he also tells him about how he learned from Nullah about the glass-tipped spear that was used to kill Lord Ashley (and Drover later learns that Fletcher had killed Lord Ashley and not King George), before he tragically dies, Flynn tells the Drover to apologise to Sarah on his behalf for being "a coward".
  • Genre Throwback - Arguably. To the old-school period epics and Westerns of the Sixties and earlier, which probably would evoke the same lukewarm reactions as Australia today, but were beloved classics then.
  • Good Shepherd: The younger of the two missionary priests, who isn't seen being an xenophobic bully towards them (unlike his superior) and pleads for a boat to go out and rescue them during the Japanese attack.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: The "Stolen Generations" is showcased by Nullah, a boy of mixed Aboriginal and white parentage, who gets removed from his Aboriginal family into a Christian Mission because children like him were viewed as a threat who had to be assimilated into white society.
  • Heroic Sacrifice - Magarri distracts the Japanese and then draws them off so they don't spot the escaping children.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice - Fletcher dies via impalement by a metal rod thrown by King George.
  • Jerkass:
    • King Carney, although he has some humanity and morals that redeem him - noticeable when he confronts Fletcher upon learning the truth about Lord Ashley's murder.
    • The Polish bartender Ivan is an example to begin with, but he becomes a better person.
  • Karmic Death - Fletcher speared the husband of Lady Ashley at the beginning of the movie in order to gain his property and frame King George. Take a wild guess how he dies, and who kills him.
  • Luke, You Are My Father - Neil Fletcher is Nullah's father.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage - Part of Drover's backstory. His Aboriginal wife died when she was denied treatment in a hospital because of her race. Consequently, Drover chooses to be friendly with the local indigenous people and keeps his distance from the white community.
  • Mercy Kill - Magari is shot in the back after attempting to distract several Japanese from Drover and the children, after a moment of gasping for breath he is shot in the head by one of the soldiers.
  • Jerkass:
  • Mr. Fanservice - Hugh Jackman.
  • No Name Given - Thoroughly played straight with Drover.
  • One-Word Title
  • Orange/Blue Contrast - And how. It's almost easier to count the scenes in the movie that aren't bathed in orange-blue contrast. Much of that is probably helped along by the Scenery Porn: the Australian Outback is bright orange, sandy desert contrasted with deep, cloudless blue sky. There is also orange tinting on the human characters and often-appearing dark blue lighting.
  • Oscar Bait - Boy Howdy. Amusingly received only a nomination for its costumes. Hugh Jackman spoofed this in his Academy Award-opening monologue: "In The Reader, Kate, English, plays a German, nominated. In Tropic Thunder, Robert Downey Jr., who was an American, playing an Australian, playing an African-American, nominated. Where's me? I'm an Australian, playing an Australian in a movie called Australia... hosting." Which prompted a writer at Television Without Pity to quip, "Yeah, that's the reason, Hugh."
  • Precision F-Strike - After mostly refraining from harsh language, The Drover delivers a particularly effective "fuck" near the end of the movie.
  • Product Placement - Australia itself. Having assisted with funding, the government through Tourism Australia hoped to attract significant overseas tourism from this movie.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack - Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations (specifically, Variation IX Nimrod) plays over the final scene of the film.
  • Punch-Clock Villain:
    • Sgt. Callahan qualifies. Although he is sent to track both King George and Nullah down and take them away, Callahan is simply doing his job.
    • The Indigenous trackers that are hired to help track Nullah down. Since they have very little screen time, not much is known about them. However, the trackers appear to be rather callous and unfeeling, so their morals are pretty questionable.
  • Recycled In Space - It's Out of Africa IN AUSTRALIA!
  • Scenery Porn - It sure is pretty Down Under.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely - Played straight... with Hugh Jackman!
  • Shirtless Scene - The Drover has a wash at one point... mmm... wet, soapy Hugh Jackman...
  • Shout-Out - There are multiple allusions throughout to The Wizard of Oz, which was released in 1939, the same year the story begins. Sarah clumsily attempts to describe the plot of the film to a fascinated Nullah, who later gets to see it for himself at a cinema in Darwin; "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is a recurring musical motif; and at one point the main characters have to cross the Never Never.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss - Basically the relationship of Lady Ashley and Drover in a nutshell. At least at first anyway.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Carney's daughter Cath, despite being in love with Fletcher is a nice, unassuming woman who volunteers to help at the radio tower and is one of the few to treat Sarah well even after she falls out of favor with many (including Cath's mother) due to her outspoken sympathy for the aboriginals.
  • Stock Scream - The Wilhelm Scream.
  • Two-Act Structure - of the "Rise and Fall" variety. Act One ends on a triumphant note, with a successful cattle drive and Sarah hooking up with the Drover. After a two-year Time Skip narrated by Nullah, Act Two begins on an ominous note, with Fletcher having taken over from King Carney and the threat of war looking in the background.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"? - The Chinese cook at Faraway Downs has the humorously-offensive name of "Mr. Singsong".