Australian Outback Movies
Movies that are set in the Australian Outback

Australian Outback movies... Most of these movies are fiction, but all are set and filmed in the Australian Outback.

Some are based on true events and stories from Outback Australia (Wolf Creek isn't!). They not only offer stunning images but historical information at the same time.

There are also some simple entertaining flicks, as well as links to the well known block busters. Tastes vary...

The listings are in reverse chronological order of the release dates:

The Proposition

Director: John Hillcoat - Australia, 2006 - Fiction, based on true events

You could call it an Aussie western, or maybe a historical action flick... The Proposition is set in the Queensland Outback in the 1880's, a part of Australia's violent history that you probably know nothing about.

The film opens with a ferocious gun battle at the end of which the two Burns brothers Charlie and Mikey are captured. Captain Stanley offers the main perpetrator Charlie a difficult proposition: Either to track down and kill his elder brother Arthur who is wanted for a particularly hideous crime, or to see the his innocent younger brother Mikey hang.

So Charlie sets off on horseback into the Australian Outback where Arthur is believed to be hiding. And although Arthur certainly deserves whatever punishment is waiting for him, of course Charlie has difficulty sentencing his own brother to death...

This is not a typical western, with clearly defined good and bad guys... From the opening scene to the very end you don't know who to side with. The lawmen are as bad as anyone, the prisoners have their own strict code of morality.

The film is visually absolutely stunning, the way the beauty and the stark contrasts of the Australian Outback are captured... And the eerie music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (The Dirty Three) is a perfect match. It's a gripping film, but beware, it is very explicit in its portrayal of violence.

An excellent movie, not a western, not a historical movie... it is a lot more than that.

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Wolf Creek

Director: Greg McLean - Australia, 2005 - Fiction

This gory horror flick received a lot of attention when released, mainly due to the marketing as "based on true events". It isn't really, I talk about this on another page: Wolf Creek, The True Story

The film tells the story of three young backpackers in their twenties. When they return from a hike in Wolf Creek National Park they find that their car won't start. They accept help from a seemingly friendly local bushman who tows their car to his camp, an abandoned old mine site. They spend the night there, wake up the next morning and this is when they realise that he is not the friendly bushman they thought. The horror starts there.

The movie is set in the most beautiful part of the Australian Outback, the remote and stunningly beautiful Kimberley region in Western Australia. You have about 45 minutes to enjoy the imagery before the actual horror begins. And make no mistake, the film is gruesome. So don't get this movie just for the beautiful Outback pictures...

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Kangaroo Jack

Director: David McNally - Australia, 2003 - Fiction, comedy

A bit like Crocodile Dundee in reverse: two city boys in the outback. Friends Charlie and Louis have to deliver $50,000 to Charlie's mobster stepfather in the Australian Outback. On their trip they come across an elusive kangaroo that ends up in Louis jacket with the $50,000 in the pocket.

A movie for the times where you just want to switch off and leave the brain in neutral...

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Rabbit-Proof Fence

Director: Phillip Noyce - Australia, 2002 - Fiction, based on true story

A heartfelt and stirring story about the "Stolen Generation", set in 1931 Australia, when it was custom to take half-cast Aboriginal children (children with one Aboriginal and one white parent) from their parents and raise them in orphanages to "civilise" them.

Three young girls, the sisters Molly (14), Daisy (8) and their cousin Gracie (10) are taken from their mother and their small village Jigalong to the orphanage at Moore River. They are supposed to learn the path of duty, service and responsibility of a good Christian woman. But these girls are different, and when the opportunity arises they escape...

The film chronicles their journey as they attempt to make their way back to Jigalong, 1200 miles of Outback desert away, a seemingly impossible trek. They find the rabbit proof fence that stretches north-south across most of the Australian continent and follow it north, pursued by an Aborigine tracker who is steadily closing in... A movie about the social injustice that led to the "Stolen Generation" but also a road movie...

The outstanding film is based on the novel "Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence" by Doris Pilkington, which tells the true-life story of her mother, Molly.

The three young actresses playing the girls are excellent, so is David Gulpilil as tracker Moodoo. The music is haunting and very effective, an adaptation of Aboriginal melodies by Peter Gabriel. And the countryside of course is simply glorious... The fact that the beauty of the Outback only underlines but never distracts from the human element of the film is an exceptional feat...

As is the whole movie. Strongly and whole heartedly recommended.

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The Tracker

Director: David Flatman - Australia, 2002 - Fiction

Another movie featuring David Gulpilil (also starring in Rabbit-Proof Fence) as an Aboriginal tracker. The movie is set in 1922 Outback Australia. In "The Tracker" he is helping a three men military squad to hunt down an Aboriginal man accused of the murder of a white woman. As the four men trek - seemingly endlessly - through the Australian Outback the tensions are constantly boiling just underneath the surface.

The film is not so much about the hunters and the prey as it is about the struggles within the hunting party. The commander never fully trusts his tracker, and the court "Yes, boss" of the tracker only camouflages his true thoughts and feelings. He is very much aware of the power he has over the whole search party in this environment that is so foreign to them.

The movie is beautifully filmed. Grand vistas conceal watching eyes and pointed spears... One thing is a bit, well, weird. The technique to interrupt scenes of fighting with still images of paintings that portray the violence and its aftermath...

Still, it is a very strong and poetic movie, despite the evil, violence and racial hatred it depicts. The effective music was written by Graham Tardif, the lyrics by de Heer, and the 10 songs are sung by the famous Aboriginal musician Archie Roach.

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Crocodile Dundee

Director: Peter Faiman - Australia, 1986 - Fiction, comedy

I don't think Crocodile Dundee needs any introduction... If you really never heard of it, here is a review.

In addition to a hilariously accurate portrayal of the typical Aussie Outback bloke (yep, they really are a lot like Dundee in many respects, I wish they would look like him, too...) you get to see a bit of the Kakadu National Park region where the first part of the movie was filmed.

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Director: Nicolas Roeg - Australia, 1971 - Fiction

The story of two white children, a teenage girl and her young brother, who are abandoned in the Australian Outback by a father who takes them there, sets the car on fire and shoots himself. They attempt to make their way through the wilderness back to civilisation, but are obviously ill equipped for the task. At the last moment they are found by a young aboriginal man on his "walkabout", a seven months journey across Australia, living off the land. He guides them through the wilderness.

The movie is about an old theme, the conflict between civilisation and nature. The film may have aged a bit, in some parts it seems outdated, filmmakers have learnt a lot of new tricks since... But the images of the Australian Outback are as hypnotic and spellbinding as they were 35 years ago. Still well worth watching.

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