Australian talent has been making international waves for decades
Review: Australians and Hollywood, National Film and Sound Archive
Visitors are greeted into the foyer of the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) by a life-size wax figure of actor Eric Bana, on loan from Madame Tussaud, ready for selfies.
Three fierce steering wheels from Mad Max: Fury Road are provided by George Miller. The exquisite Moulin Rouge cancan costumes are among the memorabilia from Bazmark (the production company run by Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin) held by the NFSA.
Australians & Hollywood, the new archive exhibition, brings together objects from inside and outside the collections. The focus on Australia’s relationship with Hollywood is rich and timely. Curator Tara Marynowsky highlights the transnational dimensions of the Australian film industry, drawing on the idea of Hollywood as a dispersed global phenomenon.
The subtitle of the exhibition, “a story of profession, talent and ambition”, is an appropriate characterization of his approach. All three concepts are featured in various locations and experiences across the space.
Arts and crafts
The focus on craftsmanship is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the exhibit.
Unsurprisingly, this is prominent in the section titled “George Miller and His Universe”.
Miller rose to international prominence as the director of the Mad Max film franchise, and the exhibit highlights the eclectic cleanup undertaken by costume designer Norma Moriceau for her work on Mad Max 2 (1981) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985). ).
Read more: Our undying love for Mad Max’s outback Australia: an anarchic wasteland of evil sado-masochistic punks and rocking clowns
The juxtaposition of this work with his design of Paul Hogan’s waistcoat, hat and knife from Crocodile Dundee (1986) recalls his influence on some of Australia’s most iconic and enduring cinematic imagery.
A variety of concept books and digitally rendered storyboards are scattered throughout the exhibition space. Mad Max and Crocodile Dundee storyboards are joined by several stunning concept books put together under the design direction of Catherine Martin for Bazmark Productions, for films like Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Moulin Rouge (2001).
Through this early design work, we have the opportunity to explore a variety of approaches that different creative teams bring to this process, from scruffy hand-drawn sketches to expansive collages envisioning individual shots as well as entire cinematic universes. .
Read more: Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann at 25: is it the best film adaptation of Shakespeare?
I found the focus on the concept of ambition quite intriguing, particularly in terms of how that notion plays out in the section about production company Blue-Tongue Films and their 2010 hit Animal Kingdom.
Animal Kingdom helped launch the Hollywood careers of filmmaker David Michôd and actors Ben Mendelsohn and Jacki Weaver.
A quote on the wall from Mendelsohn states that, if he could have told himself that he would one day be in a Star Wars movie, he could have saved himself a lot of angst. In an audio interview, we hear about his unworthy couch surfing days in Los Angeles.
An interview with Nicole Kidman in another corner of the exhibit recounts similar stories about her early life in Los Angeles, surviving on the generosity of her fellow Aussies.
Ambition, as this exhibition shows, is frequently associated with resilience, courage and friendship.
While the Blue-Tongue and Bazmark sections emphasize collaboration, the exhibition focuses primarily on individuals, skillfully used as a tool through which facets of the industry are highlighted.
The emphasis on celebrating Australian talent and success comes to life more explicitly in relation to the Oscars.
Producer Emile Sherman’s Best Picture Oscar for The King’s Speech (2010) is there, locked in glass. And there are plenty of interview clips and acceptance speeches from Australian actors and filmmakers in red carpet attire holding trophies.
We have no doubts about the recognition Hollywood has bestowed on Australian talent since the 1970s. Photographs dotted throughout the exhibit showcase the Hollywood careers of filmmakers like Miller, Phillip Noyce, Peter Weir, Sherman and Cate Shortland as well as of actors like Cate Blanchett, Kidman, Bana and Weaver.
Read more: Marvel’s Black Widow has been cast by a small independent Australian director. And she’s the perfect person
The missing stories
It is certainly a challenge trying to address the variety and complexity of the Australian industry’s relationship with Hollywood, particularly in this small, unique exhibition space. And there is no doubt that this exhibition contains an attractive variety of interesting objects and resources.
But if he is interested in Australian talents exported to Hollywood, he is more briefly interested in the phenomenon of Hollywood productions on Australian soil.
There are a few on-set photographs from some of these productions, including a number of Miller and Bazmark films as well as Thor: Ragnarok (2017), but little focus is placed on the production studios and post facilities and crews. -production who have contributed to this kind of films over the decades.
Similarly, the exhibition showcases the success of Australian First Nations practitioners such as Warwick Thornton and Rachel Perkins, but makes only brief reference to the weaving of indigenous culture in the Hollywood blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok.
Certainly, there is much to appreciate. We have plenty of opportunities to peek behind the scenes, from getting up close to iconic costumes and props to listening to actors reflect on their artistic and personal journeys. It is a charming and engaging representation of our rich and diverse audiovisual heritage.
Australians & Hollywood is at the National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra, until July 17.