2 October 2006 | daveapps
background to this movie
I'm surprised to find that this film has been seen (and appreciated) in America. It wasn't all that successful in Australia, most people felt (like me) that it was a great plot idea let down by the writing (I also found Colin Friels' performance a little flat - and I thought the film went a bit heavy on the anti-American angle).
However, these reviewers don't seem to quite know the background to the film. Britain's first atom bomb was tested on Monte Bello island in the Indian Ocean in 1956, but the next series of tests were carried out at Maralinga in the South Australian desert, at the invitation of the Australian government. There was nothing secret about this, the government actually used the tests to promote itself as looking after Australia's security. Sounds very familiar! At the time the movie was made (1987), there was a big issue over the radiation levels that Australian troops had been exposed to during the tests, and the effects on their long-term health (much the same as for US troops during the Nevada tests.) There were also questions raised about how much effort had gone into evacuating the local Aborigines from the area both before and after the tests. This is the issue that forms the background to the movie, but it is really about drawing parallels between Australian subservience to Britain in the 50's and to the USA in the 80's, and just how much this is really in Australia's interest.
The debate back then was over the US satellite facilities at Pine Gap, today it is over support for the war in Iraq. The movie should have been topical and relevant, then and now, but it isn't because it is done with such a heavy hand. The scene where Colin Friels and Donald Pleasance are suddenly ambushed by US troops in the middle of the Outback is just stupid. The scene where he is making the hot dog commercial is supposed to be about the domination of American culture, but it doesn't work either. The line where he is talking to the rat in his kitchen when he gets home, probably looked good on paper, but should have been cut from the movie. The final scene should be brilliant, but isn't. When Colin Friels says, 'Hey, wait a minute...' he shouldn't say anything! His face should say it all.
My opinion - this film isn't great, but it could have been, which is why I found it so disappointing. Close, but no banana - damn, another Americanism!