Australia The Movie

Baz Lurhmann’s movie Australia is perfect fodder for teaching Drama and Theatre students about genre and style. Partly because the film has about half a dozen plots during the course of its 2 hours and 45 minutes, and partly because it is, well, Baz Lurhmann (need I say more?), the film has been variously referred to as one or more of the following:

  • melodrama
  • war drama
  • romantic drama
  • period drama
  • epic drama
  • cattle drive movie
  • fable
  • western
  • racial story
  • revenge story
  • mystical story
  • business story
  • love story
  • creation story

To be honest, I’ve had a bit of fun the past few days, scouring the web for reviews of the movie across the globe and counting up the different genres attributed to the film. After all, few film directors understand the art of genre-mashing as well as Lurhmann.

When Australia is released on DVD in 2009, this film could prove very worthwhile in teaching our students about genre and style in the medium they love most. Throw in a handout for them to isolate and document the various genres in the film, determined either by plot/narrative, setting, characters or acting style and then class discussion, followed by an understanding that next time you take these students to live theatre, determining genre and style shouldn’t be that difficult, anymore!

Considering most modern theatre is eclectic in style, sometimes students find it difficult to isolate various styles in performance and then realise how they can often all work well together. I realise I’m using genre and style interchangeably in this example (something I normally loathe doing), but I’m sure it will all work out in the long run, however we refer to things.

A couple of side notes…I don’t know what the criticism is about Nicole Kidman’s acting in this film? Of course it’s declamatory in style, but that’s Lurhmann wanted, and it suits the film. Also, I can’t work out what some reviewers are griping about with David Wenham’s character, too. He’s meant to be two-dimensional! He’s a villain, as in all good melodramas and no, his stripes don’t change, either 🙂

From a theatrical perspective, I thought you may enjoy an article about Caroline Martin’s costume designs in the film Australia, plus a slide show of images with her commentary (see below). Note: once archived, these articles in The New York Times will require free registration in order to access them. Enjoy!

The Look of Australia (costume slideshow)

Socks To Blouses, A Film Finds Its Look

Also, check out a fantastic six-minute video about the costumes in the film Australia, featuring Lurhmann and Martin, in the sidebar of this blog. Only about 2,000 costumes made for this film, that’s all 🙂

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