This wonderful film defines the word "EPIC." Baz Luhrmann ("Romeo and Juliet," "Strictly Ballroom" and "Moulin Rouge!") has never been shy about pushing all of our buttons; he knows just WHAT will thrill us, and just WHEN to do it. In "Australia," he never misses his mark!
  • Hugh Jackman ("X-Men," "Van Helsing" and "The Prestige") is a cattle drover: all hero...horse, hat and whip.
  • Nichole Kidman ("The Golden Compass" and Academy Award for "The Hours") is the stuffy British aristocrat who inherits her late husband's Australian ranch. Upon her arrival, she is completely lost in the rough and tumble world of the Outback, where she quickly discovers she is in jeopardy of losing everything.
  • Bryan Brown ("The Poseidon Adventure" and "Along Came Polly") is the dastardly fellow who intends to own her ranch, lock, stock and barrel, so he will have a monopoly on all the beef shipped out of Darwin for the war effort in Europe.
  • Brandon Walters, in his first film, is the most appealing aboriginal boy who ever played an appealing aboriginal boy. He is in practically every scene and you miss him when he isn't there. His is the central role in the film.
  • Jack Thompson ("South Pacific" - 2001 and "The Good German") is the habitually drunken cleric who volunteers for a risky cattle drive.

Even though our story begins in 1938, this movie starts out like a good old-fashioned American western, complete with lots of brawling, bronco busting, a cattle drive, jaw-dropping landscapes, a wonderfully staged stampede, and lots of humor, as Kidman's character is forced to get off her high horse and earn her spurs. We are reminded it is Australia however, when Jackman's drover must depend on an Aborigine to "sing" the herd to a distant water hole. Songlines are a fascinating part of Australian history, far too complex to address here.

There is also the issue of sheltering a "creamy" (sp?) on Kidman's ranch, despite pressure to turn in the little guy. As you probably know, the government in Australia had an official policy -- which has since been rescinded -- to take custody of children who were of mixed parentage and ship them to missionary schools, where they were taught menial skills, e.g., housekeeping, gardening, etc., so they could take their "rightful place" in society. (Please see the wonderful film "Rabbit-Proof Fence" for a more in-depth dramatization of that sad chapter in Australia's history.)

Once the cattle drive is over, the movie might have ended, but for Pearl Harbor. After December 7th, 1941, WWII erupted in the Pacific, with Australia sitting directly in the line of fire. Darwin, in northern Australia, is the first city hit from the air, so the next part of the film addresses the Japanese surprise attack, the unexpected jeopardy and the swiftly changing fortunes of our principals -- with plenty of blowie uppie stuff -- and you WILL get goose bumps when you hear "Somewhere, over the rainbow..." played on the harmonica!