Peter Weir — Master of the Extraordinary in Australian Wilderness
Australian film director Peter Weir laid down the foundation of the new Australian film, i.e. he started the phase of the so called Australian New Wave in the 1970s. The Last Wave, Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Cars that Ate Paris, and The Plumber are the films with which Peter Weir stepped onto the film stage with recognizable directorial techniques in the 1970s and thus marked the path for the then Australian cinema. The second phase of his film making, in America, brought him international recognition, which does not come as a surprise at all if we take into consideration the size of the American cinema in relation to the Australian. Perhaps this was a logical sequence of events. This text tackles Weir’s films from the Australian phase in which he examines the most intriguing aspects of the society. By using stylistic techniques he shakes up the given conditions of the social dynamics which results in unusual combinations and even more interesting story-lines. By contrasting binary terms such as nature/society, rational/irrational, Australian/British, freedom/inhibition, Weir leaves his stamp and a recognizable style. What is most clearly evident in all four films are numerous scenes of the Australian wilderness with which Weir resolutely paved the way for the development of the national film. Australian landscape functions almost as a character in his films, many times superior to other characters. Its steadiness and constancy hits the very core of the human self-sufficiency. Disordered power-holders, stiff true believers and intellectual snobs make up the panoply of Weir’s characters. Each in their own way, they crash against the archetypal landscape creating circles of cracked convictions that expand and drive like shrapnel into the soft body of the artificial society that heals its wounds in conditioned places of civilization Meccas, far from the Australian desert’s thick and hot air.