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The Last Wave (1977)

A Sydney lawyer defends five Aborigines in a ritualized taboo murder and in the process learns disturbing things about himself and premonitions.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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4 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Olivia Hamnett ...
Chris Lee (as Gulpilil)
Frederick Parslow ...
Vivean Gray ...
Nandjiwarra Amagula ...
Walter Amagula ...
Gerry Lee
Roy Bara ...
Cedrick Lalara ...
Morris Lalara ...
Peter Carroll ...
Michael Zeadler
Athol Compton ...
Billy Corman
Michael Duffield ...
Andrew Potter
Wallas Eaton ...
Morgue Doctor


A Sydney lawyer has more to worry about than higher-than-average rainfall when he is called upon to defend five Aboriginals in court. Determined to break their silence and discover the truth behind the hidden society he suspects lives in his city, the Lawyer is drawn further, and more intimately, into a prophesy that threatens a new Armageddon, wherein all the continent shall drown. Written by David Carroll <davidc@atom.ansto.gov.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Occult Forces. The Ritual Murder. The Sinister Storms. The Prophetic Dreams. The Last Wave. See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

January 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Black Rain  »

Box Office


AUD 810,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Director Peter Weir asked tribal Aboriginal actors David Gulpilil and Nandjiwarra Amagula about the script and incorporated their reactions to the finished dialogue. See more »


When Chamberlin's character leaves his office and drives in the rain the windshield wipers are moving at a fast rate. When the shot changes to inside the car the wipers are suddenly moving at a slower rate. See more »


Chris Lee: Dream is a shadow ... of something real.
See more »


Featured in Kot Shryodingera (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

Stands the test of time.
4 November 2007 | by (South Korea) – See all my reviews

'The Last Wave' is far more than the sum of its parts. It's not merely a disaster film, not simply an exploration into Australian Aboriginal spirituality, and certainly more than a simple court drama. Writer/Director Peter Weir manages to take these elements to the next level to produce a truly effective and thought-provoking film with the same eerie atmosphere he gave to 'Picnic At Hanging Rock' two years earlier, that you will continue to remember years later.

When lawyer David Burton (Chamberlain) is called to defend Chris Lee (Gulpilil) over the death of an Aboriginal for which he may or may not be directly responsible, he finds himself not merely struggling to get the truth from Lee, but making sense of what he hears when it does come. As with the Aboriginal belief that there are two worlds - the everyday and the Dreamtime, the truth exists on two completely different levels, with ramifications more disastrous than Burton could ever have imagined.

No doubt the reason why 'Picnic At Hanging Rock' is better remembered is because of its enduring mystery. We are led along the same path but forced to find answers for ourselves. In 'The Last Wave', we can piece everything together by the end of the film. However, even with all the information, we have to choose how much of it we want to believe, because the film takes us beyond the borders of our normal realities.

On the production side, Weir uses his budget to great effect, progressively building a sense of doom in everything from soft lighting, to heavy rain, to good use of sound. The incidental music is unobtrusive, never trying to be grandiose. Richard Chamberlain manages to convey the bafflement the audience would doubtless feel as he tries to unravel the mystery. David Gulpilil excellently portrays a man trapped between two worlds, wanting to do the right thing, but afraid because he already knows the ending.

Put all these things together, and you have a perfect example of why David Weir is a familiar name in cinema thirty years on. Strongly recommended.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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name change??? Black Rain - The Last Wave Yemaya2005
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