The Australian New-Wave of cinema emerged as a result of increased spending and interest in the Australian film industry, brought about as a result of its decline following World War II. Between 1970 and 1990, over 400 films were created in this era, and some of these, including “The Road Warrior” and “The Year of Living Dangerously” are considered classics worldwide, not just in Australia (Godden, 2014). As a result, many scholars have critiqued the legacy of the Australian New-Wave and how it has affected the film industry in Australia and beyond. These scholars have explored what qualities have made the Australian New-Wave so successful and how its success has prevented the death of Australian cinema which was predicted before the wave. Many of these critiques have been made part of this dossier, which has been created with the aim of establishing the form, function and legacy of the Australian New-Wave.
Many of the films created within the Australian New-Wave of cinema could be considered gothic, in that they share a similar fashion to American Film Noir and has elements shared with that of gothic literature. In a recent article by West (2013), the fact that many of these New-Wave creations make use of the land and dedicate themselves to a creation of politic and art is explored, concluding that these films made extreme use of connecting politics to the art form. In a way, suggests West (2013), many of these films were reduced by American reviewers as anthropological because of this, but in fact engage the viewer in a much deeper understanding of the relationship between Australians and their land as well as the political implications of this. For Australians, the movement did not signify any real change in national identity, although it made the Americans more aware of Australian culture as a whole, suggests Godden (2014). The combination of Australian culture and deeply political issues was emerging on the art scene, although it continues to be quite common in both Australian and British films particularly, suggesting that the New-Wave set the scene for a political-art combination explosion in the early 1980s and beyond (Malik, 1996).
“My Brilliant Career” is an excellent example of Australian New-Wave cinema and many scholars have examined its place in the archives. Woodcock (2008) suggests that its lasting legacy for the Australian mainstream is that it established a theme of feminism in cinema, again supporting the idea that politics was heavily involved in the creation of the New-Wave. Roe (2011) also suggests that much of the imagery used within “My Brilliant Career” as well as the struggles idealized by Sybylla have continued to be found within Australian cinema, for example in later works such as “Muriel’s Wedding”. The interesting cast and the establishment of a real internal struggle are iconic and continue to be used in cinema both inside and outside of Australia (Sheckels, 2002). Feminism continued to be a part of many black comedies and political films until the early 1990s, and the establishment of strong female characters is one that was definitely helped along by New-Wave films such as “My Brilliant Career” (Malik, 1996).
“The Year of Living Dangerously” is also a well-established part of the New-Wave movement and continues to be considered an important film on a global basis. Coming later in the era, 1982, a combination of Australian and Filipino scenes were used. Like many of the other researchers, Scott et al. (1995) considers the hugely political element of the film, which also features a sacrificial Asian character, another enduring part of the New-Wave legacy seen in both Australian and world films (Khoo, 2006). Evidently, the fact that the film stars Mel Gibson is an important element of its success – he was also in “The Road Warrior” – and continues to dominate Hollywood today as part of the legacy of Australian New-Wave. This crossover between Australia and Hollywood is part of the reason why many of these films are so enduring and have contributed to the success of the industry at home (McLellan et al., 2005). Others, such as Graeme Blundell, have brought their New-Wave past from the cinema to the small screen and continue to be known for their influence during the era, which again suggests there has been a lasting legacy for New-Wave.
There are also similarities between “The Year of Living Dangerously”, directed by the inimitable Peter Weir, and an American film “Under Fire”. These similarities come from a growing worldwide trend following the preoccupation of filmmakers with the Third World and using it as a visual entity in filmmaking (MacBean, 1984). Bearing this in mind, it is evident that “The Year of Living Dangerously” and, as a result, seminal New-Wave director Weir, has had an effect on cinema worldwide, again supporting the notion of a global legacy. Weir himself is a legacy of New-Wave Cinema, starting with the deeply black comedy “The Cars that Ate Paris”, which continues to be an underground hit today. “The Cars that Ate Paris”, Rayner (2009) suggests, continues to be so enduring because it has contributed so much to both the Ozploitation scene and future black comedies found in both the New-Wave cinema and beyond. Weir himself has now continued to be a successful director, including involvement in successful American films like Dead Poets Society, again a result of the enduring legacy of the Australian New-Wave (Rayner, 2009).
- Godden, M. (2014, August 18). An Essay on Australian New Wave Cinema | golgotha graphics. Retrieved from http://www.golgotha.com.au/2013/01/09/an-essay-on-australian-new-wave-cinema/
- Khoo, O. (2006). Telling stories: the sacrificial Asian in Australian cinema. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 27(01-02), 45–63.
- Malik, S. (1996). Beyond the “Cinema of duty?”–the pleasures of hybridity: Black British film of the 1980s and 1990s. Dissolving Views: Key Writings on British Cinema, Cassell.
- McLellan, T., McMahon, C., & Green, K. (2005, December). Year of living dangerously revisited. Retrieved August 28, 2014, from http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=200600385;res=IELAPA
- Rayner, J. (2009). The Cars That Ate Paris. Metro Magazine: Media & Education Magazine, (160), 124.
- Roe, B. (2011). My Brilliant Career. Making Film and Television Histories: Australia and New Zealand, 220.
- Scott, M., Caputo, R., & Tanskaya, A. (1995). Australian Film: 1978-1994; a Survey of Theatrical Features. Oxford University Press.
- Sheckels, T. F. (2002). Celluloid heroes down under: Australian film, 1970-2000. Praeger Publishers.
- West, P. L. (2014). Towards a Politics and Art of the Land: Gothic Cinema of the Australian New Wave and Its Reception by American Film Critics. M/C Journal, 17(4). Retrieved from http://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/viewArticle/847
- Woodcock, B. (2008). Cinema Collection: My Brilliant Career. Retrieved August 28, 2014, from http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=517822625259667;res=IELAPA