A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema

By Charles P. Mitchell | Go to book overview

The Last Wave (1977)

Rating: ***** Threat: End of a dreamtime cycle

World Northal. Written by Peter Weir, Petru Popescu & Tony Morphett; Photographed by Russell Boyd; Special effects by Mont Fieguth & Bob Hilditch; Edited by Max Lemon; Music by Charles Wain; Produced by Hal & Jim McElroy; Directed by Peter Weir. 106 minutes.


ANNOTATED CAST LIST

Richard Chamberlain (David Burton, corporate tax lawyer); Olivia Hamnett (Annie, his wife); Katrina Sedgewick (Sophie, their daughter); Ingrid Weir (Grace, their daughter); David Gulpilil (Chris Lee, Aboriginal man accused of murder and David's dream guide); Nandjiwarra Amagula (Charlie, tribal holy man); Frederick Parslow (Rev. Burton, David's stepfather); Vivean Gray (Dr. Whitburn, folklore expert); Peter Carroll (Michael Zeadler, Barrister working with David); Walter Amagula (Gerry Lee, brother of Chris and defendant); Roy Bara (Larry, defendant); Cedric LaLara (Lindsey, defendant); Morris LaLara (Jacko, defendant); Jennifer de Greenlaw (Zeadler's secretary); John Frawley (policeman); Athol Compton (Billy Corman, murder victim); Medley Cullen (judge); Richard Henderson (prosecutor); Michael Duffield (Andrew Porter, man at party); Wallace Eaton (morgue doctor); John Measher (morgue attendant); Merv Lilly (pub operator); Jo England (babysitter); Guido Rametta (Guido, parking lot attendant); Malcolm Robertson (Don Fishbunn, Legal Aid administrator); Penny Leach (schoolteacher in the outback).


SYNOPSIS

The Last Wave and Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) helped to establish Peter Weir as a major director, and both are extraordinarily rich, thought-provoking films dealing with dreams, mystical occurrences and unexplainable phenomena. They are open to widely varying critical interpretations. Both films are a tour de force, a celebration of the highest cinematic craftsmanship. The Last Wave is the darker and more strenuous of the two pictures, but it is still utterly fascinating. It is the most metaphysical of the apocalyptic films profiled in this book.

The credits depict the Aboriginal holy man known as Charlie painting mysterious symbols on the wall of a cave. The scene shifts to a one-room school-house in the arid Australian outback. Children are at recess in the playground when they hear ominous rolling thunder. They look up perplexed, as there are no clouds and the sky is pure blue. Their teacher summons them inside, and softball-size hail starts to fall, smashing the school's windows. The teacher watches the landscape in disbelief, since the sky is still blue.

In Sydney, corporate lawyer David Burton drives home through a downpour, listening to news of the freak hailstorm in Central Australia. When he arrives

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A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Overview: Cinematic Visions of the Apocalypse xi
  • A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema: Fifty Films in Depth 1
  • The 27th Day (1957) 3
  • Armageddon (1998) 10
  • Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) 17
  • Crack in the World (1965) 22
  • The Dawn of the Dead (1978) 27
  • The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) 33
  • The Day the Sky Exploded (1958/61) 40
  • Day the World Ended (1956) 44
  • Deep Impact (1998) 48
  • Deluge (1933) 54
  • Doomsday Machine (1967/72) 59
  • Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) 63
  • The End of the World (1930/34) 70
  • Five (1951) 74
  • Holocaust 2000 (1978) 78
  • The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945) 83
  • Kronos (1957) 88
  • The Last Man on Earth (1964) 93
  • The Last War (1961) 98
  • The Last Wave (1977) 103
  • The Last Woman on Earth (1960) 108
  • Lifeforce (1985) 112
  • The Lost Missile (1958) 117
  • The Magnetic Monster (1953) 122
  • The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936) 127
  • Mars Attacks! (1996) 133
  • Meteor (1979) 139
  • Moonraker (1979) 145
  • The Night the World Exploded (1957) 152
  • Noah's Ark (1929) 157
  • No Blade of Grass (1970) 162
  • No Survivors Please (1964) 168
  • One Night Stand (1984) 172
  • On the Beach (1959) 177
  • Quiet Earth (1985) 184
  • Robot Monster (1953) 189
  • Runestone (1991) 194
  • The Satan Bug (1965) 199
  • The Seventh Sign (1988) 205
  • Solar Crisis (1990) 210
  • Star Trek—the Motion Picture (1978) 214
  • Target Earth (1953) 221
  • Them! (1954) 226
  • Virus (1980) 231
  • Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) 238
  • The War of the Worlds (1953) 243
  • When Worlds Collide (1951) 249
  • Where Have All the People Gone? (1974) 255
  • The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959) 259
  • Zarkorr the Invader (1996) 265
  • Appendices 269
  • Appendix A 271
  • Appendix B 279
  • Appendix C 283
  • Index 285
  • About the Author 311
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