7.1/10
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52 user 68 critic

The Last Wave (1977)

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

Director:

Peter Weir

Writers:

Peter Weir (screenplay), Tony Morphett (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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4 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Chamberlain ... David Burton
Olivia Hamnett Olivia Hamnett ... Annie Burton
David Gulpilil ... Chris Lee (as Gulpilil)
Frederick Parslow Frederick Parslow ... Rev. Burton
Vivean Gray Vivean Gray ... Dr. Whitburn
Nandjiwarra Amagula Nandjiwarra Amagula ... Charlie
Walter Amagula Walter Amagula ... Gerry Lee
Roy Bara Roy Bara ... Larry
Cedrick Lalara Cedrick Lalara ... Lindsey
Morris Lalara Morris Lalara ... Jacko
Peter Carroll ... Michael Zeadler
Athol Compton Athol Compton ... Billy Corman
Hedley Cullen ... Judge
Michael Duffield Michael Duffield ... Andrew Potter
Wallas Eaton Wallas Eaton ... Morgue Doctor
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

The dream that became a nightmare. His was a premonition of doom. See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Australia

Language:

English | Italian | Aboriginal

Release Date:

January 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Black Rain See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

AUD 810,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Second of six collaborations between cinematographer Russell Boyd and director Peter Weir. The others are Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), Gallipoli (1981), The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) and The Way Back (2010). See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Michael Zeadler: I have to dispel a few rather romantic notions you seem to have. Number one, the traditional culture of the aborigines only survives among the full bloods in the far north and some parts of the desert. Those tribal aborigines live a 1,000 miles from Sydney. The people we *call* aborigines in the cities are no different culturally from depressed whites. We destroy their languages, their ceremonies, songs, their dances, - and their tribal laws.
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Connections

Referenced in Falling Water: Mothers, Fathers, Daughters, Sons (2018) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Stands the test of time.
4 November 2007 | by MuldwychSee 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.


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