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The Last Wave (1977)

 -  Drama | Mystery | Thriller  -  January 1979 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 4,870 users   Metascore: 85/100
Reviews: 44 user | 60 critic | 5 from

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



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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
Hedley Cullen ...
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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

lawyer | murder | aborigine | court | eating | See more »


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


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| |

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?


Chris is seen wearing a hat decorated with a small silver pin in the shape of an airplane. This identifies him as a member or believer in a "cargo cult" in which displaying the tiny plane summons an actual transport plane from England which then distributes valuable objects (cargo) to the natives. See more »


Change in speed of windshield wipers: This is because Richard Chamberlain's character has entered the Dreamtime. It is a Clue - not a Goof. See more »


David Burton: What did I see?
Chris Lee: A dream.
David Burton: What are dreams?
Chris Lee: Dream like hearing ... seeing ... talking ... the way of knowing things.
See more »

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User Reviews

And the Sun became black as Sackcloth, and the Moon red as Blood.
15 January 2006 | by (Brooklyn NY USA) – See all my reviews

****SPOILER ALERT**** All throughout Australia the summer turned into a deluge of rain and hail stones the size of baseballs that was causing havoc in coastal cities like Sydney. It's under these hectic conditions that tax lawyer David Burton, Richard Chamberlain,got involved in a case, as a defense attorney, involving the death of a local aborigine who was found dead outside a Sydney bar.

Having five fellow aborigines arrested for Billy Cormans,Athol Compton, death it's determined by the police coroner that Billy died of drowning not by violence even though he had bruises on his neck and shoulders. Yet the court decided to prosecute the five for his death charging them with manslaughter instead of murder.

David defending the five gets no help from them in their defense with the accused assailants opting to remain quite and keep what happened to Billy to themselves and take what's coming to them from the court. One of the defendants Chris, David Gulpili, begin to somehow invades David's dreams as if he want's to tell him what was really behind Billy's death.

David at first not taking his dreams of Chris seriously begins to sense that their real when he meet him at the courthouse. Chris confirms David's dreams by showing him a strange looking black rock that David saw Chris have in his dreams. Later meeting Chris and, what turns out to be an aborigine shaman, Charlie (Nandjiwarna Amagula) who came to his house that evening David is told that he, like Charlie, has spiritual powers that he inherited from his mother's grandfather. Those powers will reveal to him the future that has to do with the strange weather conditions that are flooding the Australian continent. The earth,Chris tells David, is going through a gigantic cleansing cycle with the old world about to be washed away and the new world ready to take it's place.

David is confused about what both Chris and Charlie are telling him but as the rains continue to increase and the ocean waves start to rise he feels that something terrible is going to happen. David want's to know if it's all aborigine folklore or there's some scientific facts, or logic, behind their end of world-like revelations.

By now it's obvious that both Chris and Charlie are members of an aborigine tribe right in the heart of modern Sydney. That alone can get Chris off, as well as his four friends, for the murder of Billy. Since the Australian government will not prosecute tribal aborigines, leaving any justice to be done by the tribes themselves. Still Chris refuses to admit he's a member of a native tribe and he and his four friends are convicted of manslaughter in Billy's death with the sentences to be handed down by the judge within days.

David now determined to find out what was the reason for Chris' silence, and why Billy had to die, is taken by Chris to the scene of the crime. It's there that David finds out that Billy betrayed Chris' tribe members by going there with Billy not being a member of Chris's aborigine tribe. It's also revealed to David that he himself has some kind of spiritual connection with the Austrailan aborigines as both Charlie and his step-father Rev. Burton,David Parslow, told him.

The stage is now set for the great and final cleansing cycle that David's been seeing in both his night-time dreams and day-time visions. It comes in the form of a massive tidal wave rolling out of the Pacific Ocean into the Australian coast city of Sydney and then submerges the entire continent.

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