The Last Wave (1977)

THE LAST WAVE (1977)
Article 3012 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-6-2009
Posting Date: 11-12-2009
Directed by Peter Weir
Featuring Richard Chamberlain, Olivia Hamnett, David Gulpilil
Country: Australia

A lawyer takes on a case where he defends a group of aboriginals on a murder charge. However, he finds that one of the aboriginals has been appearing in his dreams, and that his dreams may portend a future event…

From the opening scene where a small desert village in Australia is hit by a hailstorm despite a cloudless sky, to the final apocalyptic visions, this is one movie that leaves you in a constant sense of dread. Though I’m not a particular fan of premonition movies, the powerful use of symbolic images, and the addition of the theme of the clash of cultures (in this case, that of the Australian tribal aboriginals and the currently dominant white settlers) adds a power and a depth to the movie that makes it a fascinating watch. The mysticism makes the movie rather difficult at times (though the concept of dreamtime being a separate and equally “real” reality as the more mundane waking time is fascinating), and the movie does run a bit too long, but its use of water symbolism is truly unsettling, and the challenge of working out some of the details means that I will most likely be revisiting this fascinating film again. I’d been looking forward to seeing this movie for years after having heard about it and having seen director Peter Weir’s earlier film, PICNIC ON HANGING ROCK, and I’m glad to say that it didn’t disappoint.

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