Australia
PG-13
Entertainment: +3 1/2
Acceptability: -2

Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, David Wenham, Bryan Brown. Directed and written by Baz Luhrmann.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Fans of John Wayne westerns and the epic Giant, will find Australia worth the admission price even though 155 minutes may test their patience. Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman with the gorgeous Australian landscape as a backdrop make it a visual treat as well. Its 1939 and World War II is about to escalate. Kidman plays Lady Sarah Ashley, a beautiful English aristocratic widow trying to save her husbands mammoth cattle business in northern Australia. Lady Ashley is quickly transformed from an icy socialite to a strong-willed, capable cattle driver. Along the way, she falls in love with both the Drover (Jackman) and a young Aborigine boy, Nullah (Brandon Walters), the child of one of the servants.

Upon her arrival from England, Sarah is met by the cattle driver Drover in a rusty old pickup truck for the long ride across a desert. She must endure the 3-day trip wedged between an alcoholic lawyer (Jack Thompson) and the sweaty Drover. After a hostile introduction, Sarah and Drover soon join forces to drive 1500 head of cattle to the seaport town of Darwin, facing dangerous situations as the villainous Neil Fletcher (David Wenham) performs heinous deeds trying to sabotage their drive. He is working for King Carney (Bryan Brown), a rival competing for the contract the Australian Army made with Lady Ashleys dead husband to deliver cattle.

PREVIEW SYNOPSIS: The plight of Aborigines plays a role, especially that of the children, who were taken from their families and sent to Christian missionary schools in an effort to civilize them. Young Nullah learns to dodge this fate by skillfully hiding from the authorities. Sarah makes it her mission to protect him and treats him as her own child.

Superstition and mythology cast a spell over the Aborigines who believe in wizardry and magic. Nullahs grandfather, King George (David Gulpilil) watches over the land from high atop a mountain, appearing mysteriously to perform magic that protects his people. Nullah has learned some of this magic from him and once manages to avoid being stampeded by waving his hands, redirecting the herd of cattle coming toward him, implying he has supernatural powers.

A few violent deaths, including an elderly man killed in a stampede and another killed during a bombing by the Japanese are graphic. One strong obscenity, a brief sex scene without nudity and an unwed couple living together contribute to the PG-13 rating. Much whiskey drinking and frequent drunkenness and barroom brawls may not be surprising considering the hardships of life in the Outback, but its acceptance is never questioned. The historical fact that Christian missionaries instigated the Australian government to agree that Aborigine children should be taken from their homes is not judgmental against Christianity. It was simply a well-intentioned but misguided effort that failed.

Australia tells a fascinating story about a fascinating country most of us know very little about. Yet Americans can identify with the countrys pioneering spirit, so reminiscent of our own Wild West days.

(Editors Note: Mary Draughon is back. A former reviewer for Preview, Ms. Draughon has kindly offered to assist me with reviews. She is taking the time in order to help me and this ministry. Her professional abilities and helpful heart are most appreciated.)

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Summary
Crude Language: Few times (damn, bastard)
Obscene Language: One f-word
Profanity: One exclamatory (God knows)
Violence: Many times (drowning death, graphic scene of man killed in stampede, destructive fires from bombing that destroys town, fire set to incite stampede, barroom brawls)
Sexual Intercourse: Once (brief, no nudity, unmarried couple)
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Mild references to sex; unmarried couple live together
Drug Abuse: Alcohol drinking many times, some drunkenness
Other: Supernatural powers of old man and young boy who practice witchcraft and magic
Running Time: 155 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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