Please, share your thoughts on this period in Australian cinema (generally thought of as beginning in the early 70s and ending in the late 80s). What are some of your favorite films?
An interesting idea that sort of reoccurs here is that European-based life can't really "exist" in Australia, the ancient, wild, unknowable land. Or, in other words, when European descendants try to "tame" the Australian wild, disaster inevitably ensues. Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Last Wave, and Evil Angels are all favorites of mine that fit here. Would love to get your thoughts on this.
I also really love My Brilliant Career (Judy Davis!!!). It's, well... brilliant!
I still haven't seen Walkabout... Highly recommended?
I always kind of bristle at the notion of an Australian New Wave because - you know, everyone in the 70s had their own New Wave really - but yes those 3 - Walkabout, Wake in Fright and Picnic At Hanging Rock are all great and had things in them that attracted people to look at them as being reflective of the culture too - and obviously and evocatively so (though one of them is not even made by an Australian anyway right, Roeg).
Those 3 seem in some ways variations on a theme with Walkabout being the safe middle ground of the two - Wake In Fright is a real unpleasant film when you think back on it, and Picnic At Hanging Rock is a real beautiful one - but all say similar things that people who don't know Australia already assumed were truths anyway - it's a mysterious land, very strange things can happen here, the terrain can literally and unknowingly kill you, and if not you can lose the real you here too anyway.
I'm reminded of the Kinks song "Australia" which talks about the period that it was sold as a paradise destination to the British middle class (a formal penal colony too naturally!) and how the happy sales pitches for it then turn into something ominous and threatening (the druggy musical jam at the end of that song and the menacing musical note it literally ends on - basically in that song it says Australia will f*ck up everything
I love all the films you mentioned Tyler although The Last Wave I think is a bit overrated imo (ending doesn't resolve itself well and fizzles out) - but I'd mention The Chant Of Jimmy Blacksmith as a pivotal film too - directed by Fred Schepisi (Evil Angels) which in effect was made outside the industry and without the artifice of any of the other films people reference - it hits like a ton of bricks. It also, like a lot of these films couldn't be made anywhere else or set anywhere else - the location is a character itself.