Finally! Been waiting for it and was somewhat p-o'd that it was released first in the country whose public gave it such a shithouse lukewarm-to-cold reception. On the other hand, I hear that Australia didn't do so badly at all in the end; and it seems that DVD sales are going through the roof. It gives me heart, because I was despairing about the sensibilities of the viewing public.
Not that the movie had a terribly good treatment in Australia itself. The dimwit intellecualigentsia and those afraid of allowing anything approaching national pride to intrude on their thoughts and feelings—and who, by and large, are exactly those targeted by Robert Solomon in his book In Defense of Sentimentality—have shredded it many a time. On a recent edition of an Australian ABC programme called The Gruen Transfer, which is apparently littered exclusively with people who get a rise out of rubbishing everything they don't understand, the anti-Australia rethoric rose to new heights; or sunk to new lows, depending on how you look at it.
Stupid, stupid people! Don't they see that Baz Luhrman—who otherwise isn't exactly my favorite director—has accomplished something that the rest of the filmworld ought to be, and maybe is, insanely jealous of. He's managed to create what amounts to a epic saga of a country he loves, its people and its (short but eventful) history. In doing so, he's exposed the best and the worst of what Australia—as well as humanity at large—has to offer. But he's been so carefully evenhanded that this alone, I suspect, makes so many people dislike the movie. Nobody gets away scot-free.
However, the baddies aren't only bad, but, at a very fundamental human and emotional level, just stupid and insanely self-righteous and/or self-centered; which is indeed a common feature distinguishing those who make the world a worse place than it needs to be.
So, good on you, Baz. Well done. Screw the critics—or, maybe more appropriately, shove some sharp sticks up where the sun don't shine. What do they know, eh?
Or, so a part of me wonders, do they know what Luhrman has accomplished, and are they just angry that it was he who did it, and that it was done in this particular way; a way that's probably anathema to them?
Hmmff. It's possible and maybe even likely.
Anyway, go out and buy the DVD. It's worth every cent.