BMZ Review: Australia: Land Beyond Time
By Herb Lash
Australia: Land Beyond Time Review
Written by: Herb Lash
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: May 2002
In life and art weird things are always captivating. Weird is different, weird defies expectations - it can repulse even as it draws us closer. Take the platypus. The first Europeans who happened upon this amphibious duckbilled relative of the kangaroo were sure it was a manmade fraud - God just doesn't joke around like this. Except in Australia. AUSTRALIA: LAND BEYOND TIME is an enjoyable Big Movie primarily because Australia is a weirdly beautiful place.
The filmmakers are to be commended for taking a low-key approach to the voice over narrative and allowing the images to do most of the work. The film utilizes a standard nature documentary approach - a tried and true point and shoot strategy that usually results in an entirely predictable film. But just like in Hollywood - with enough star power you can transform your B movie to something …more. AUSTRALIA: LAND BEYOND TIME has no shortage of stars. See the Horny Devil and his lightning fast tongue. Watch as tree climbing Koala Bears get stuck in nose-to-booty traffic jams. Witness subterranean frogs living on Rumplestilskin time as they wake, dig out and play in the rain. The film is worth seeing because there is quite simply a lot of weird stuff to look at.
The film stresses that existence is first and foremost a result of adaptation. Peculiar natural forces demand peculiar responses from both Australian life and land. Whether it's an ancient rain forest clinging to life or the ability of a kangaroo to put a pregnancy on hold during times of drought - this mostly desert island continent demands survivor skills you don't see on TV game shows. The adaptation message is as true as it is familiar. But by choosing not to include that weirdest and most adaptive animal of all, the film suffers. Are there no humans in Australia? We see Kangaroos struggle to scratch tough to reach spots in the middle of their backs - just like humans - but these sorts of jolly anthropomorphic moments are about the only signs of human existence. Humanity is clearly not the chosen subject - but by excluding the Aborigines, and all others, the science comes across as incomplete.
Throughout AUSTRALIA's score a faint sounding didgeridoo can be heard - so it must be said that there is actually a bit of Aboriginal culture included in the film. Just enough to make one wonder what this film would have been like if the traditional narrative were replaced by an Aboriginal perspective. Every rock, stream, animal and patch of land in Australia is associated with an Aboriginal story-song. The writer and traveler Bruce Chatwin brings this vivid method of history keeping and storytelling alive in his book SONG LINES. It seems that the whole of Australia can be crossed using only these Aboriginal songs as guide - is there a more extraordinary example of life adapting to Australian environment? Large Format films have long lives - maybe this one will adapt, evolve and one day be seen with a voice over that at least equals the power of the images.
Agree/Disagree With This Review?
Additional BMZ Reviews of Australia: Land Beyond Time
Land Down Under by Ross Anthony
Movie Reviews by Herb Lash
Coral Reef Adventure
S.O.S. Planet (3D)
India: Kingdom of the Tiger
Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees
Adrenaline Rush: The Science of Risk
Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey
Alaska: Spirit of the Wild
Africa: The Serengeti
Horses: The Story of Equus
Australia: Land Beyond Time
Space Station 3D
Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man (3D)
Kilimanjaro: To the Roof of Africa
China: The Panda Adventure
The Human Body
Ski to the Max
Lost Worlds: Life in the Balance
Majestic White Horses
Haunted Castle (3D)
Ocean Men: Extreme Dive
Journey into Amazing Caves
NSync: Bigger Than Live
Across the Sea of Time (3D)
ALL ACCESS: Front row, Backstage, LIVE!
Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure
Mysteries of Egypt
Encounter in the Third Dimension (3D)
Water and Man
Legend of Loch Lomond
Michael Jordan to the Max
Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Box (3D)
Features & Reviews Search
Features & Reviews by Category
Latest Movie Reviews
- Living in the Age of Airplanes By: Ann Coates
- Journey to Space 3D By: Ann Coates
- Humpback Whales By: Ann Coates
Get up-to-date information on new and upcoming big movies, the latest big movie buzz, multimedia clips, and the latest Big Movie Zone features.