The new trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s Austrailia has us a little dumbfounded. The film, Mr. Luhrmann’s first since striking the fancy of Oscar voters seven years ago with his multiple nominated revisionist musical Moulin Rouge!, features so many references to other movies that it’s actually hard to keep up.
Mostly Australia culls from African Queen; Hugh Jackman actually appears to be wearing Humprhey Bogart’s wardrobe from the John Huston film, while Nicole Kidman seems to be reading Katherine Hepburn’s dialogue. But there are also bows towards Casablanca, especially when the film kicks into World War II mode with massive aerial combat scenes and Mr. Jackman costumed in a white tuxedo.
We could go on naming other films referenced here too. The English Patient. Titanic. Raiders of the Lost Ark. Pearl Harbor. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Back to the Future Part III. Dances with Wolves. The entire trailer feels like an advertisement for one of those AFI top-100 lists.
Still, we kinda can’t stop watching it, though maybe that’s because we just can’t get enough of the great Explosions in the Sky music cue. Australia might be a total train wreck, but it looks like it’ll be an ambitious one. It’s beautiful and seems to have a good sense of humor about itself, even though the last third of the trailer is bogged down with explosions and rote dialogue. Still, positioning Australia as an Oscar contender seems like a mistake for 20th Century Fox. There are just too many other better and more substantial prestige films coming out this season. But with a Thanksgiving release date and a killer trailer that has something for everyone, we’re sure the studio will settle for bags full of money in lieu of little golden statues.