Last night we finished watching Australia with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Because we watched it over three nights (it takes a while to get our little ones in bed), I had lots of time to mull over the parallels between Australia and The Wizard of Oz. The films are intentionally connected; Australia characters sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", talk about the story of The Wizard of Oz and watch it at a movie theater, and even quote The Wizard of Oz. "Oz" is an established nickname for Australia, and in Strictly Ballroom--another Baz Luhrmann film--one of the actors wears a shirt that says "Oz" in the only scene where he wears something other than a dance costume shirt. Here are some parallels I noted:
1) The first "Dorothy" is Lady Sarah Ashley, arriving by air from a distant land (England) in Oz (Australia) to find the Witch of the East (her philandering husband, hoodwinked by the evil Neil Fletcher) dead and then filling his shoes as the force behind the cattle drove that will save their cattle ranch.
2) The yellow brick road is the path they take on the cattle drove. Part of their journey even takes them across a desert area where the ground is parched and so looks brick-like.
3) Kipling Flynn is the Cowardly Lion, large, good-hearted, and initially scared to tell Lady Ashley some unpleasant information but finally exhibiting great courage just before his death.
4) The Tin Man is the Drover, who lost his heart when his first wife died and realizes eventually that he is in love again.
5) The evening they drink alcohol on the drove is a reference to the deadly poppy field.
6) Darwin is the Emerald City--home of most of the people in Oz and where they need to get to in order to sell the cattle, after which sale Lady Ashley intends to go home.
7) The soapy water used to kill the Wicked Witch of the West is represented by the rain in which a drunken Fletcher stumbles and falls when he gets his first comeuppance, which is brought about by Lady Ashley. The rain also brings life and love to the land, though, as rain is often a symbol for life and passion in movies (hello, Cinema Paradiso?).
8) The Scarecrow is Drover's aborigine brother-in-law, who after being silent or silly for most of the movie, finally finds his voice and tells Drover some insightful home truths.
9) The second "Dorothy" is the half-aborigine boy Nullah, who is forced to go to a Christian mission to have the aborigine taken out of him. He finally returns to his own country (the outback) as he leaves civilization--including his shoes, which he throws off last of all as a reference to the ruby slippers--to join the Wizard (his witch doctor aborigine grandfather) to do his walkabout.
I'm sure there are even more parallels than the ones above, but I'll leave you to find them should you feel like watching Australia now. I close with these words from Kidman's and Jackman's characters:
"Let's go home."
"There's no plice like it."
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