To mark the release of Justin Kurzel’s Australian thriller, Snowtown, on November 18th, we’ve taken a look at some of the best films to come out of the country in past years.
Acclaimed director, Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout, a joint British and Australian production telling of two young children (played by Jenny Agutter and Roeg’s son, Luc) stranded in the Outback. Here they meet an Aborigine boy taking part in “walkabout”, a traditional rite of passage and decide to accompany the boy in the hope of finding safety. Roeg’s creates a haunting, yet beautiful piece of cinema in this underrated classic.
Breaker Morant (1980)
Breaker Morant takes us back to the Boer War where three Australian Lieutenants stand trial after the murder of several prisoners of war. However, it is soon discovered these three men are being used as scapegoats to detract attention from the even worse crimes committed by their superiors. Edward Woodward leads and is joined by an all Australian supporting cast in this incredibly well scripted war-drama from Bruce Beresford.
Mad Max Trilogy (1979-1985)
The ultimate dystopian action films are surely the Mad Max trilogy. Each film is worth a watch from the first gritty low budget movie to the second highly entertaining outing. But my personal favourite has to be the third film in the series, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome which features one of the best, most over the top villain performances from Tina Turner.
Dead Calm (1989)
What better way to take off from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome than the ‘quite bad but actually quite good’ Dead Calm which follows a couple (Sam Neill & Nicole Kidman) terrorized by a murderer (Billy Zane) whilst out at sea. It’s a highly entertaining edge of your seat thriller with strong performances all round.
The Piano (1993)
Surely the most critically aclaimed film on this list, Jane Campion’s The Piano tells the story of a mute Scottish pianist and her daughter moving to New Zealand for an arranged marriage with a rich landowner. However, she soon becomes the subject of a retired sailor’s desires. The stellar cast features Harvey Keitel, Holly Hunter, Anna Paquin and Sam Neill who all shine in this extremely moving and powerful film.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
If ever there was a cult classic, then The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert certainly is that film. The story follows three drag queens (Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving & Guy Pearce) on a road trip for a four week club run in the Outback. The film’s positive portrayal of gay characters combined with some wonderful performances and moments of sheer hilariousness makes Priscilla one of the most entertaining pieces of Aussie cinema.
Wolf Creek (2005)
This 2005 independent horror follows three backpackers held captive by a serial killer in the Outback. Wolf Creek’s brutality drew much controversy but that aside, it is an extremely chilling and dark horror that I’m sure most fans of the genre will appreciate.
Surely with a title like that it’s compulsory for Baz Luhrman’s epic historical romance to be on this list. Australia is a truly beautifully directed and shot film that’s bound to make you want to visit the country after viewing. Luhram sets this sentimental love story against the backdrop of World War II and casts Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman in these well written roles.
Red Hill (2010)
Ryan Kwanten stars in Red Hill, a contemporary western that follows an escaped murderer terrorising the law force of the small Australian town that imprisoned him. Patrick Hughes’ direction in an excellent suspenseful style building up to a tense, action packed finale.
Animal Kingdom (2010)
This gritty Australian crime drama follows a seventeen year old boy whom after the death of his mother gets involved in the criminal underworld with his three uncles. The film was critically acclaimed and was not just noted for being one Australia’s best pieces of filmmaking in recent years.