Australia – The Movie – Some Inaccuracies

Posted on Sat 11/29/2008 by

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Andrew BoltLURHMANN’S WORST SCENE

Andrew Bolt

TonyfromOz prefaces …..

I haven’t seen this movie, and for that reason, I’ve refrained from commenting on it. I was going to specifically not make any comments, mainly because in not seeing it, there may be a perception that I am just kibbitzing from the sidelines as an uninformed critic. The movie is currently a fairly hot topic here in Australia, mainly for the reason that it effectively takes Australia the Country to the rest of the World. Even the left leaning Government here has cashed in on the movie, giving Baz Luhrmann $40 Million of taxpayer’s money, to lift scenes from the movie and use them in a tourist advertising blitz, something that has drawn sharp comment from sides both for and against the use of the movie as a tourist campaign. There is also comment of the movie’s inaccuracies in the way it deals with some of the historical events portrayed. Baz himself said that he specifically wanted to introduce some of those points to offer comment of his own, and also to add some dramatic effect, but when those points go out to wider World, then the tendency might be to believe the movie as a true representation of historical fact.

So, if you do go and watch the movie, be aware that some of the history has not only been fabricated, but then it has been blown out of all proportion on top of that. For the sheer scope of Australia, the movie shows this very well, but as to history, be well aware that this is just one person’s interpretation, and is not really the truth.

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Having just seen Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, I am not surprised it’s flopping in the US:

Figures quoted from US entertainment newspaper Variety said the movie made a paltry $3.4 million on its Thursday opening in the key market.

I’ll review the movie in full on Wednesday. But I just want to describe the one scene in the nearly three hours of this mishmash that perhaps summed up best what made this film not just poor storytelling, with preposterously implausible plotlines and the most wincing cliches, but a ludicrous and nasty rewriting of our history to boot.

Nullah is a part-Aboriginal boy stolen from his white guardian, a British artistocrat played by Nicole Kidman, by corrupt police acting under a racist law that a pitiless mission official tells Kidman’s character is designed to breed out Aborigines.

As Nullah (beautifully played by the magnetic Brandon Walters) is marched down Darwin’s docks with other captured boys to be sent by boat to the Garden Point home on Melville Island, a sneering white boy holding a joey (yes!) stops and abuses him: “Creamy, didn’t your mother want you?” A racist white kid holding a kangaroo in a film called Australia – could there be anything more archetypally us?
To add to the white sin, the Japanese army is sweeping towards Australia and the boys are being sent to an island that one character notes “will be the first place the Japs hit’’. White women and children are being evacuated from Darwin in the background, but here the Aboriginal boys are being sent to their deaths by racist white men. To really grind in his point, Luhrmann has the Japanese not just bombing the children’s home at Melville Island (which they didn’t) but invading it as well.

Bear in mind that the film is sold in captions at its beginning and its end as based on historical truths, and is being reported as such, too.

Now note a few historical truths that Lurhmann overwrites to tell his story of white infamy in this one scene.

First, as I’ve said before, a Federal Court test case has found no evidence that children in the Northern Territory were stolen just because they were black, rather than in trouble,

But what of this story that Aboriginal children were callously and deliberately sent into danger at Melville Island, while whites were evacuated south?

In fact, Aboriginal women and children were evacuated from Darwin and nearby settlements – including Garden Point – and sent as far south as the Blue Mountains.

Indeed, the Darwin premiere of Australia was watched by people who knew very well that children had not been sent to Melville Island as the Japanese drew near, but evacuated from it. Among the audience was Ilene Neville:

“I’m very excited,” said Ilene Neville, who was a seven-and-a-half-year-old member of the Stolen Generation when bombs began falling on Darwin.

“We were watching them fall from the sky and then the priests and nuns told us to get under our mattresses.”

Ms Neville had been evacuated from Garden Point on the Tiwi Islands, north of Darwin, and brought to the northern capital.

After the first raid she was moved by train to Adelaide River and then on to Alice Springs in a US military convoy.

Australia is a movie of caricatures and cliches, based on lies and promoting the easiest kind of morality there is – damning others for doing what you’re too lazy to even try to understand or even get right.

Read more excellent articles from Andrew Bolt.

Andrew Bolt is a journalist and columnist writing for The Herald Sun in Melbourne Victoria Australia.

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