Australia Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
In the grand manner of epic films, Australia opens in 1939 on two continents—beginning in Australia with an aboriginal boy named Nullah (Brandon Walters). While on a fishing expedition with his grandfather King George (David Gulpill), the youngster accidentally witnesses the death of a rich British cattle baron. Meanwhile in England, Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) is convinced her husband is spending his time on prurient interests under the guise of running a beleaguered ranch in the outback. Determined to check on the state of affairs herself, the aristocrat embarks on the lengthy journey regardless of the threats of World War II.
Bringing these two divergent characters together is the job of an Aussie local known only as Drover (Hugh Jackman). A rough-hewn cattleman who lives a nomadic life and mingles easily with the Aboriginals, he reluctantly meets the polished Lady Ashley at the port in Darwin and escorts her on a tumultuous trek to their land. When she arrives at Faraway Downs she discovers that what ever her husband was playing around with has left him dead from a spear wound. The shock of seeing his corpse lying on the dining room table is only the beginning of the many unexpected difficulties she will face on the long road (and movie) ahead.
It is at the cattle station that the British heiress finally meets young Nullah. Appealing to her maternal side, the boy begs her to finish her husband’s work. Along with revealing some of the secrets surrounding his murder, he also hopes she will stay and help his mother, a hired servant who is being exploited by some of the white male workers. He needs protecting too, even though he knows his grandfather is using the power of traditional magic to keep him safe as he watches over him from a distance. But Nallah is of mixed blood, and his danger comes from local authorities that have been ordered to round up all half-cast children and put them in religious compounds where the “black” can be taken out of their nature.
If those aren’t enough ingredients to thicken this plot (we do have close to three hours to cover), there is a competing beef producer as well. The Carney Cattle Company is biting at the heels of the dilapidated Faraway Downs, in an effort to have an industry monopoly. Helmed by King Carney (Bryan Brown), he and his future son-in-law (David Wenham) are constantly pressuring Lady Ashley to sell out in their favor. And then there is the impending war, with the Japanese air force waiting in the wings for the perfect opportunity to bomb Darwin Harbor.
In this Australian equivalent of a “Western,” the men show no hesitation in solving disputes with their fists—especially during drunken brawls. While these are destructive, this violence pales in comparison to the lives lost due to peril and murderous plots. Bloody injuries, corpses (some with spears piercing straight through the body), explosions, threats to children and on-screen shootings are depictions parents will want to be aware of before sharing this film with older teens. Other concerns include frequent drinking (to overcome stress, sorrow and fear, as well as to prove manliness), brief sexual relations between an unmarried couple (bare shoulders and carefully concealed nudity are shown), and verbal sexual references and innuendoes. As well, a traditionally dressed aboriginal male’s buttocks are exposed. There are also frequent mild and a few moderate profanities, and the single use of a sexual expletive.
It won’t be any surprise to discover who is still standing when the credits eventually roll. While the predictable production takes its dear sweet time, it does however deliver a reasonably engaging story. Fortunately, some great scenery helps the pacing along, and considering the down under origins of most of the performers and director Baz Luhrmann, it’s little wonder this cinematic piece has a patriotic feel.Starring Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Baz Luhrmann. Running time: 170 minutes. Theatrical release November 26, 2008. Updated April 1, 2009
Rating & Content Info
Why is Australia rated PG-13? Australia is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some violence, a scene of sensuality and brief strong language.
In this epic-style film about the adventure and treachery of life in Australia’s outback, a proper English lady is forced to adjust her manners and expectations when she attempts to take charge of a cattle station. Several characters lose their lives or are murdered, and depictions of corpses, bloody injuries, bodies pierced with spears, and an on-screen shooting are seen. During an air raid, bombs are dropped resulting in deaths, explosions and property damage. Men fight and punch one another during bar brawls. Characters (adults and children) are in often in danger from threats, beatings, murderous plots, a cattle stampede, fire, lack of water and invading soldiers. Women’s underwear is thrown around on a public street. References to sexual relations are made (including the practice of white men exploiting black women), and some verbal innuendos are heard. A man and a woman kiss, then begin to undress one another and are later shown in bed (sheets are carefully positioned). An unmarried couple live together as husband and wife. The drinking alcohol and drunkenness are portrayed throughout the film and cigarette smoking is shown occasionally. Frequent mild and a few moderate profanities are used, along with a sexual expletive. Racial slurs are heard. Several animals are killed—a hunter shoots one (blood is shown), others by falling from a cliff and by poisoning. A live insect struggles while it is tied with a thread. Aboriginal people dress in traditional costumes, which expose men’s chests and buttocks.
Page last updated April 1, 2009
More parents' guide for Australia after the break...
Australia Parents' Guide
The bombing of Darwin, Australia by the Japanese military during World War II was a larger raid than that of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Read more about this first air raid attack on Australia, at this Australian Government website.
The “Stolen Generation” refers to the many Australian Aboriginal children who were forcibly removed from their homes and placed under state care with the goal of helping them assimilate into a white Australian society. Read about this dark period in Australian history here.
The most recent home video release of Australia movie is March 3, 2009. Here are some details…
Visit the land down under with the release of Twentieth Century Fox’s Australia. The DVD edition features the film in widescreen format, with audio tracks in 5.1 Dolby Surround (English, French and Spanish) and subtitles in English, French and Spanish. Bonus extras include two deleted scenes (What About the Drove and Angry Staff Serve Dinner).
The Blu-ray version of Australia is authored on a dual-layer 50 GB disc with 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio (English) and 5.1 Dolby Surround (French). Subtitles are provided in English, Spanish, French, Brazilion Portuguese, Cantonese, Korean and Mandarin.Along with the aforementioned extras, this disc also offers a look behind-the-scenes and a featurette about Australia’s people and history.
Related home video titles:
Based on a true story, the film Rabbit Proof Fence also makes reference to the stolen generations of aboriginal peoples in Australia. Life on an Australian cattle station is depicted in The Man From Snowy River. Just before the Japanese bombed Darwin, Australia during World War II, their air force invaded Hawaii, as dramatized in Tora! Tora! Tora!