Australia (2008, AUS/USA) C-165m. SCOPE *** D: Baz Luhrmann. Starring Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, David Wenham, Brandon Walters, Bryan Brown, Ben Mendelsohn, Jack Thompson, Bruce Spence, Yuen Wah. Brilliantly cinematic epic set in 1930s Australia, where uptight British noblewoman Kidman travels to be with her cattle-ranching husband, only to find him dead. She joins forces with drover Jackman to continue her husband's work and protects a half-breed Aboriginal child from being deported to Mission Island. Irresistible story-telling despite massive length, film offers award-caliber work in many departments: editing, directing, camerawork, even acting all superb. Child actor Walters' performance is so intuitive, so real, he makes the film his own. Film has striking parallels to GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) while referencing another classic 1939 film, THE WIZARD OF OZ.

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