Running at 165 minutes, Australia by Baz Luhrmann at turns surprises, amuses, thrills, mystifies, and makes the viewer ponder about race, culture, love and family. As I've learned from watching Lurhmann's Moulin Rouge, expect the unexpected. And so with such visual artistry, Luhrmann's Australia is entertaining as it shifts from the comedic beginning (the barroom brawl and underwear suitcase fiasco) to the thrilling middle (driving 1500 heads of "fat cheeky bulls through Neverland and into that big bloody metal ship," love develops between Lady Ashley & Drover) up to the dramatic ending (WWII bombing, rescue of kids, reunion).
On the treatment of women, aborigines and half-castes, the film never pontificates. From the mouths of Lady Sarah Ashley and Drover, we hear their firm conviction that, Just because it is, doesn't mean it should be when confronted by discrimination.
The last time I gasped and held my breath as I saw the cinematographic artistry onscreen was while watching Barry Lyndon. Watching Australia made me gasped again after a long while. The panoramic shots of the outback and Faraway Downs, the dusty arid landcape, the nightsky just make me want to eat the scenery.