Australian Cinema had made its humble but successful beginning with the world’s first full-length feature film called The Story of the Kelly Gang in 1906. Since then, the industry in Australia has grown by leaps and bounds and a number of movies and talents have been globally recognized. It has gifted the world talents like Cate Blanchett, High Jackman, Russell Crowe, Eric Bana, Mel Gibson and many more.
Australian film gained steady viewership both within Australia and abroad, mainly in British theaters during the Silent Era and saw an enviable growth thanks to master directors like Raymond Longford, Ken Hall and Charles Chauvel.
Although the ever expanding British and American movies soon strengthened their grip on Australian theatres and pushed the indigenous fare on a path of decline, the movie industry still made a successful transition to the sound era. Jedda, one of the most controversial Australian movies ever produced was prophetic and was one of the first major productions to tell the tale of the aboriginals of Australia and used Aboriginal actors in the film. This Australian masterpiece directed by Charles Chauvel was the first to feature at the prestigious Cannes Festival.
After a new stagnation and lull during the 1950s and 1960s, the 1970s saw the emergence of a new wave of cinema, thanks to directors, technicians and actors trained from Australian Film Television and Radio School. A number of film funding bodies were also established and the renaissance continued into the late 1980s as well. Over 400 films were produced during the period, a record of sorts. This was an era which also saw the emergence of auteurs like Phil Noyce and Gillian Armstrong among others and actors like Mel Gibson, Sam Niall and Judy Davis.
The film industry in Australia continues to shine as a bright spec in the international film circuits even today although the brain drain continues as many choose a glittering career in Hollywood over their own industry.
Some notable films of Australia
Wolf Creek (2005)
Directed by Greg Mclean, it is one of the most notable films in the horror genre ever produced. The directed used neorealism as a backdrop and a two act structure. A group of young backpackers find themselves on a vacation in the idyllic Broome beach and is haunted and hunted down by a psychopathic killer who uses the surroundings as a weapon. Very few horror films have received such glowing tribute from the audience.
Gallipoli is a war drama directed by Peter Weir. It is one of Mel Gibson’s earliest films and helped immensely to catapult him to superstardom. It is a story of camaraderie between a group of Australian village youngsters who enlist for the Ottoman Empire during the first world war. It shows their innocence, friendship, transformation through the harshness and sorrows of war and the attempt to establishment Australian identity on a world stage. It also had some well choreographed and sleek action sequences.
Troll Bridge, produced by Snowgum Films, is still under production and is an adaptation of a short story by Terry Pratchett in 1991 and is set in a Discworld parallel universe. It is a story of Cohen, an aging barbarian on a mission to find and kill a bridge troll and how they end up together, reminiscing of a past when trolls used to wait under bridges hoping to be killed by heroes and when the land was not yet settled. It is a fictional film and uses a lot of CG effects to portray magic, talking horses, impossibly long bridges and many other improbable but thorough entertaining sequences.
Australian films have always offered the best and have never shied away from mirroring the best and the worst of the society realistically and objectively. It will continue to evince keen interest and fandom in the future as well.