Tuesday, December 02, 2008

An Epic Romance. . . Australia!

I am a sucker for a great romance. . . for opposites attract and two halves can make more than just a whole. And this season we've got a great epic-sized romance on the big screen. "Australia" is a great movie to take you into the holiday season with a sigh and a tear and quite a few chuckles. Not to mention the eye candy of Hugh Jackman in full "pumped up" cowboy mode. Rearrrrrrrr. And rrrrrrr some more.

The movie is set in 1939 outside Darwin Australia. . . a time of turmoil and prejudice and fears run amuck. Lady Sarah Ashley's husband dies as she is on the way from Britain to join him (and possibly tear him a new one for all his infidelities) and convince him to return to England.

But she arrives to find him dead and her cattle ranch/station in disrepair and under threat from the biggest beef producer in the north of Australia. She takes on the challenge of getting her cattle to market-- with "Drover" who is Hugh Jackman in fabulously scruffy and appealing guise-- and a scrabbled-together crew. They are trying to break the ruthless cattleman's monopoly on selling beef to the military. . . and it's fascinating to see the changes in Nicole Kidman's character as a result of her experiences. Yes, they get the cattle to the port-- but at some cost-- and Sarah is liberated from the "lady" role forever.


Some of the lingering shots and staging of scenes are right out of a big old historical romance novel. And since I'm a historical romance writer, that's no slam-- they're just like you imagine they would be in your mind when reading. Including a wonderful reverse "bathing" scene in which Lady Sarah gets an eyeful and begins to forget her fresh widowhood and her city ways. We get an eyeful, too. That one scene alone was worth the cost of admission!

But the whole story is set against the fears and prejudices of the times, including the racial prejudice that divided the white settlers from the aborigines. The brunt of inter-racial scorn fell on the children of mixed parentage. It was as if the settlers were content to leave the aboriginal children with their people, but children of mixed unions were culled out and shipped off to "mission school". . . supposedly for their own good, but in reality to remove all evidence that white men had been indulging in sex with aboriginal women. (Sounds all too familiar, huh?)

One mixed-blood child in particular, "Nullah," embodies the tensions that fuel the film: opposing races and traditions and world views. He lives on the Ashleys' cattle station and must constantly duck the "coppers" who try to take him off to the mission school. Lady Ashley (like we the viewers) falls in love with Nullah and wants to keep him with his family on the ranch. She is reminded powerfully that she is no longer in England. . . that pride (of heritage) is NOT power. And she nearly loses Nullah and Drover and everything that she loves as the Japanese bomb Darwin harbor and begin to invade.


Perhaps the most affecting part of the movie for me was the marvelous portrayal of the aboriginal ideas of the earth and how all things are related. The old aboriginal wise man "King George" explains that everything has it's song. And that part of our task as humans is to learn these songs and honor them and to sing our own songs back into the universe. Wow. It was heartwarming and wrenching at the same time, and a really sobering look at the truth and wisdom and beauty we have nearly lost from our native peoples.

If you have a chance to see Australia, please do. It's a holiday treat that will keep you warm in the wintery days ahead.

So what is your favorite epic? Was there one scene in a film that has stayed with you through the years and you just can't forget? Do you have a favorite movie soundtrack you listen to while working?


As a part of our 12 Days of Christmas promotion, I'll be giving away the soundtrack to Australia! (along with one of my own much loved (pre-used) favorites!) Lovely music that makes you dream of wide-open spaces and fabulous, heroic action!

Happy Holidays!

41 comments:

CrystalGB said...

The kissing scene in the rain from The Notebook is a powerful scene.
A movie soundtrack that I enjoy is Dirty Dancing.

Betina Krahn said...

CrystalGB, I don't think I've ever heard the whole soundtrack from Dirty Dancing-- must give it a listen! Thanks! Oooooo and the kissing in the rain scene. . . yes!

lunaticcafe said...

The Last of the Mohicans is one of my favorite movies and the scene where he tells her to stay alive no matter what occurs is one of the best. I also love the soundtrack.

Australia is on my must see list- might go on our anniversary in a couple weeks.

Michele Hauf said...

Speaking of Baz Luhrman, one of my favorite soundtracks is Moulin Rouge. I also love the Ned Divine CD.

lois greiman said...

Wow, Betina, why am I wasting my time in front of this computer. Must run out and see movie.

Do you remember The Man From Snowy River? I saw it during a time when I was horseless (and kind of nuts). The music, the scenery, the sweeping saga of it actually helped get me back on track, to remember who I was and what I needed to make my life work. Sometimes movies actually can do that. What a lovely thing.

Thanks for the beautiful post.

Betina Krahn said...

Lunaticcafe-- the Last of the Mohicans is one of my all-time favorite soundtracks. It's so heroic and romantic and powerful. . . thanks for making me remember it!

Michele, I loved Moulin Rouge! it took me a while to get around to seeing it-- didn't like that it won best picture over one of my favorites. But when i did see it, I loved it. I still adore Lady Marmalade and groove to it everytime it comes on my oldies station!

Lois-- yes! The Man From Snow River! What a fabulous movie! I rented it for my kids and the hubby and I watched with with the three times that weekend! Such nobility and strength. And that scene where he goes right over the edge with the horses-- WOW. My boys talked about it for years.

Good movies do that for a people-- make them want to overcome and rise above the ordinary and stretch to become their best selves. Funny, I can't imagine you without horses! Was there really a time when you didn't have them?

Betina Krahn said...
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traveler said...

My ultimate favorite soundtrack which I could listen to day after day is Il Postino. Extremely beautiful and emotional. The setting on the water in the boat is wonderful and unforgettable.

Cheri2628 said...

Favorite soundtracks - Forrest Gump, Lord of the Rings, Titanic, The Big Chill, The Polar Express, and so many of the Disney animated movies (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, etc.)

Keri Ford said...

When I was younger, I adored the Dirty Dancing, Top Gun, and Pretty Woman soundtracks. Like Cheri, I also sang along with many Disney soundtracks. Anastasia (sp? too lazy today to go look) and Little Mermaid are two of my favs.

Debra Dixon said...

Betina-- This was great! My BFF and I plan to see this movie very soon. I knew I'd love it but now I'm even more jazzed to see it.

Since I'm such a movie buff, I have lots of scenes from lots of movies which rattle around my head.

Re: soundtracks
I've never much been into listening to those while writing. I go for classical and celtic and some "nature" soundtracks with thunderstorms and rain, etc.

Janga said...
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Janga said...
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Michele Hauf said...

This is going to really date me, but my favorite Disney soundtracks are Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Play them all the time in the car. "It's a jolly holiday with Mary!"

Liza said...

Michele-I love the Mary Poppins soundtrack. I have it on my ipod and listen to it all the time. My nieces both have it on their ipods too. I love all the other Disney soundtracks too.

I also love the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. I also love the soundtrack to Bridget Jones's Diary.

One of my favorite scenes ever is when Princess Leia tells Han Solo she loves him in Empire Strikes Back. He answers back I know and it's so perfect because that is how his character would answer. The scene was actually re-written with that response after Harrison Ford told George Lucas that would be the only response by Han to Leia.

flip said...

I love music soundtracks. Bernard Hermann, the composer for Hitchcock is one of my favorites. The scores for the Harry Potter movies are beautiful.

This sounds like a must see movie for me. I love great epics. #1 is Gone with the Wind.

Christie Ridgway said...

Oh, Last of the Mohicans is a good one. There's a scene where he's searching for her in the crowd at the fort and then their eyes meet...

Also in the Keira Knightley P&P movie, there's a moment when Darcy touches her hand helping her into a carriage. The camera focuses on the touch and something about that moment just gives me a zing!

I really want to see this movie. We're having a Girls Night Out on Friday night and it's one of the choices. But we're voting and I don't know the results as yet.

PJ said...

I am so anxious to see this movie! I was out of town for Thanksgiving but plan to hit the theater with some girlfriends this weekend. Can't wait!

I adore the soundtrack from Last of the Mohicans as well as the movie itself and am lucky enough to live less than two hours from that gorgeous scenery. The waterfall scene. Sigh...

Dirty Dancing is a great soundtrack and always takes me back to my pre-teen and teen years.

Dances with Wolves is another epic film that I loved and has a gorgeous John Barry soundtrack.

Ellory said...

This is on our radar to go see in the theater. After spending a year and half in OZ we, definitely want to see it.

I love the soundtracks to all three LotR trilogy.

Virginia said...

Dirty Dancing, would have to be one of my favorites along with Pretty women, because I loved the older music.

Betina Krahn said...

Traveler, I can't recall the sound track to Il Postino, but I'll sure look it up!

Cheri, I love Lord of the Rings-- the music was so otherworldly and so heroic. I do listen to in wen i have a big fight scene in the making. And Forest Gump-- I liked the movie and know that the music was quite integral to it-- but i can't for the life of me recall what the specific songs were! I'll have to check that one out, too.

Keri, Top Gun was my aerobics workout music for some years. To this day, when I hear Danger Zone's "On these mighty wings" I have to start doing low impact moves!

Deb and Christie and PJ and flip-- I hope you'll enjoy the movie as much as I did. Just go prepared to embrace all its parts and let it roll over you.

Michele, I would never have pegged you for a Mary Poppins/Chitty Chitty Bang Bang kind of gal. But i can totally see you siging like mad in the car!

Liza, you're so right about the Moulin Rouge and Bridget Jones. And that scene with Han being frozen and saying "I know" to Leia's declaration of love was SO romantic! I remember feeling for my heart, thinking it had stopped!

Ellory, I hope you really enjoy it. There is a real OZ connection in the movie and a part where Nicole Kidman tries in her fumbling adult way to remember the words to Over The Rainbow. . . just so tender and difficult. Good moviemaking.

PJ, yes, Dances with Wolves! Great soundtrack!

Virginia, the oldies-but-goodies are favorites that can turn a so-so movie into something really fun. Look at Mamma Mia!

Great ideas here!

Jane said...

My favorites include the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The scenery was so beautiful. The soundtracks for these three movies was great, too. My favorite soundtrack is from "Band of Brothers."

jenna said...

My favorites are Chariots of Fire and St. Elmo's Fire. Both are great.

Estella said...

My favorite epic is Gone With The Wind.
I love the soundtrack from Hope floats.

ruth said...

My favorite soundtrack is from La Vie En Rose. Just beautiful.
My favorite movie is Bread and Tulips.

Cathy said...

Two of my favorite movies and soundtracks are Last of the Mohicans, and King Arthur.

Helen Brenna said...

Favorite epic - I'm with Estella - Gone with the Wind.

Fav soundtrack would have to be Wonder Boys - the movie with Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Frances McDormand and Robert Downey Jr. It's a strange one, but I love it.

flchen1 said...

We listen to lots of soundtracks, and right now we're enjoying a resurgence of John Williams' spectaculars--the Star Wars ones, of course, and Indiana Jones...

I'm also a big fan of most of the Disney soundtracks (Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King...), and also enjoyed O Brother Where Art Thou and some others...

I also like some of those ones inspired by TV shows, such as Vonda Shepard's, from the Ally McBeal show (which I stopped watching after a while, but kept listening to the CDs...)

And yum on Australia--Hugh!

D Twomey said...

I loved the movie Braveheart!

I really enjoyed the music from The Rose, starring Bette Midler and A Star is Born with Barbara Streisand!

Hmmmm.... seems I may be dating myself too!

Raven99 said...

I love the soundtrack to the Pride and Prejudice movie with Keira Knightley. I listen to it all the time. Some other soundtracks I like are from Legends of the Fall, Pretty in Pink and Almost Famous.

catslady said...

I just got to see Australia for my birthday and everything you said was true. I loved it. Moulin Rouge is one of my favorite soundtracks but I have so many that I enjoy. One of my favorite movie soundtracks is from Forever Young but I haven't been able to find it as yet. I think I may be able to special order it.

Playground Monitor said...

The DH is going on a business trip soon, so I'm planning an Australia afternoon at the movies while he's gone. I can drool and swoon over Hugh to my little heart's content.

I just finished NaNoWriMo (and won too! 50K in 30 days and the near completion of my first novel) and toward the end I kept listening to the song "So Close" from the movie "Enchanted." The lyrics just seemed to BE my characters -- love so close but not quite, trying to find a happy ending. I was listening to it last Saturday at Barnes and Noble as I typed the last words of chapter 11, uploaded my document to the NaNo site and got the screen that said You Won!. Can you tell I'm proud of myself? Now if I can just get over this nasty cold that had my head clogged and incapable of thought, I will get back and finish the darned thing. It's only taken me 4 years to do it.

Marilyn

Dina said...

I am always listening to the music of The Phantom of the Opera movie versio, loved that Gerard Butler sings in it, will never get tired of it! :)

Margie said...

I love the soundtracks from The Man From Snowy River, The Last of the Mohicans, and Titanic.

Deborah said...

I absolutely loved the movie The Man From Snowy River! The scenery , the soundtrack ----everything was awesome!

robynl said...

I love the soundtrack from:

Chariots of Fire
Dirty Dancing
Pretty Woman

danie88 said...

One of my favorite movies is "The Breakfast Club" but the one scene from a movie that has been stuck in the back of my mind for years (which i don't mind because I love it) is the hospital scene in "A Walk To Remember" movie when Jamie has Landon read a verse from the journal book she has in her hands Here is the quote:

"Love is always patient and kind.
It is never jealous. Love is never boastful or conceited. It is never rude or selfish. It does not take offense and is not resentful."

I love that quote and I love the movie...

As far as what my favorite movie soundtrack is I'm gonna have to say anyone of the High School Musical soundtracks (though my favorite is HSM2)... I know I know I'm wierd like that but I love the songs :D

Laurie said...

FAVORITE EPIC DR ZHIVAGO. LOVED LARA'S THEME AND NAMED MY DAUGHTER LARA!! FAVORITE SCENE: WHEN YURI FINDS LARISSA AFTER HIS LONG SEARCH.
ALSO LOVED SHOGUN WITH RICHARD CHAMBERLAIN
MUSIC: AMADEUS, CAMELOT, GREASE,
ALSO ENJOY: BEAUTY& THE BEAST,SOUND OF MUSIC, MOULON ROUGE, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

Betina Krahn said...

Wow, you guys have made quite alist for me! Now I'll have to go out and dig up some great oldies!

Dr Zhivago. . . wow, that takes me back. But Lara's theme was so haunting and memorable. And Phantom-- yes the one where Gerard sings!

How interesting that so many of us still love The Man From Snowy River, even though it's an old flick. Is it the horses or the nobility of it all?

Braveheart was so epic, but I don't remember the music much. I loved Henry V with Kenneth Branaugh for the music-- it was heroic and fabulous.

Gone with the Wind comes up again and again. . . I should look into the soundtrack! And Chariots of Fire-- terrific music there!

Thanks everyone for contributing and increasing my Christmas list! I'll announce the winner tomorrow!

quiltingreader said...

My favorite soundtrack is Footloose. But don't listen to it when you're working. Everyone will start thinking you're strange when you start dancing around.

Christine said...

Thank you so much for the review of Australia. I think I am Hugh Jackman's favorite fan, but I had heard that the movie was no good. You cleared that up for me. Can't wait to see it.