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Reality and Dreams

November 29th, 2007 (11:19 am)

© 2007 D. Gordon


A few days ago I was walking around Bondi Beach with S (sigh, and now I'm back home in the cold). Early in her career, S's job put had her in regular contact with the Sydney Sewer Dept.; and, in pointing out the vent for the underground sewers waaaay in the distance, she mentioned Peter Weir using the sewers as a location while filming The Last Wave during her tenure.

So yes, I rented a copy and watched it last night.

And almost did it a disservice.

I had no idea what the film was about, and at first it looks like a descendant of the 1950's 'Bwana Does the Natives a Boon' genre. The focus is on Richard Chamberlain (American, although he'd spent significant time in the UK by the time of the production) as a lawyer asked to defend five Aboriginals accused of murdering a sixth - although he's really a tax lawyer, he does "support the Legal Aid". There are some "noble savage" shots, and the accused don't say much at first - which really doesn't bode well. What becomes clear soon enough, though, is that they're innocent... probably, and something else entirely different is happening.

In true Weir style (see Picnic at Hanging Rock, for example), nothing of the story is handed over on silver service. The movie requires thought and personal interpretation, and even then there may not be complete answers.

The DVD I watched was a Criterion release. It's slightly dated around the edges, and you can see where the CGI would likely bleed in if done today, but it's still a very striking story of knowledge that modern-day Western civilization can't really explain away.

I'll have to really thank S for that mention.