GOODNESS, what a fuss. Probably the biggest, most expensive film made on our own soil about us, by us, came to the silver screen with expectations higher and wider than the Titanic. Similarly, from the overconfident hype, the adoption of the property by Tourism Australia and the fact director Baz Luhrmann was said to be still furiously editing and darning into the wee hours until the last possible moment, the scene was set for the film to unleash hell, as Russell Crowe might have put it. But while Australians took to the film like dingoes to dogmeat ( who doesn’t want to see a Gone with the Wind scale epic about their own country?), Americans yawned and stayed away in droves. Star Hugh Jackman, who proved himself the complete all-rounder by singing and dancing his way through a gig as host at the recent Academy Awards, quipped that Robert Downey Jr was nominated as a Caucasian American playing a white Australian playing an African American in Tropic Thunder , while Jackman, an Australian playing an Australian in a movie called Australia , was merely hosting. OK, so the world won’t acclaim a film on demand. But if you missed this at the cinema and want to see what the fuss is about, you may be surprised and delighted, or you may want to throw things. Australia polarised audiences and critics, so here’s your chance to find out if it’s a mess, a masterpiece or something in between. And don’t be, um, fooled by the DVD’s official release date: April 1.
Ian Cuthbertson EXTRAS: Two deleted scenes
( M) 20th Century Fox ( 175 minutes) $ 32.95