Last Wave [Criterion Collection]


aec.crrnlas100dvd 11/27/01 New
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Peter Weir follows up on his critically acclaimed masterpiece Picnic at Hanging Rock with this surrealist psychological drama. The film opens with a freak hailstorm in Australia's outback. Cut to David Burton (Richard Chamberlain), a well-to-do Sydney corporate lawyer plagued by visions of impending doom who is assigned to defend five accused of murdering a fellow Aborigine. The case itself proves to be mysterious -- no exact cause of death can be determined by the pathologist, and the accused remain strangely tight-lipped about the whole affair. As his visions grow increasingly weird and intense, Burton sees in his dream one of the five Aborigines, Chris (David Gulpili of Walkabout fame), who is drenched and clutching a sacred rock. Burton's interest in the case slides into complete obsession, and he comes to believe that not only was the murder related to an underground urban tribe of Aborigines but that Australia is about to be decimated by a massive, apocalyptic tidal wave. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi


Review Text Exploring similar ground as Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Last Wave delves into the gap between white Australia's button-down Victorian culture and the mysteries of the land occupied by that culture. Just as a prim, flaxen-haired schoolgirl is seemingly swallowed up by the sheer malevolence of Australia's rocky landscape in Weir's previous work, so does David Burton -- a prim, flaxen-haired tax attorney -- disappear into the Aboriginal caves located in the bowels of Sydney in The Last Wave. In both films, white Australian culture, with its fixation on rolled lawns, starched whites, and cricket, seems shallow and ludicrously ill-equipped to adapt to its rough and decidedly weird surroundings. One weakness of the film is its depiction of Aborigines; though much of the narrative's tension rides on the shadowy practices of this band of Native Australians, the film itself treads perilously close to cliché and stereotype. Another weakness is the lead actor who plays Burton; Richard Chamberlain, who usually has the emotional range of a bag of hammers, manages to imitate human facial expressions with some plausibility but fails to muster the intensity that the part demands. In spite of this, director Peter Weir manages to build a mood of dread and anxiety through a deft use of striking imagery and sound design. Overall, The Last Wave is both a fascinating look at a not-too-foreign culture and a profoundly creepy mood piece that stays with viewers after the lights have gone up. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi

Product Details

Release Date
MPAA Rating
PG -- Parental guidance suggested
1 hour, 46 minutes
  • PCM Stereo
  • USA & territories, Canada
  • English
Video Features
  • New digital transfer supervised by director Peter Weir and enhanced for 16x9 televisions
  • Interview with director Peter Weir
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
  • Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition
Number of Discs

Customer Reviews