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The Year of Living Dangerously (1982) Poster

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Linda Hunt is the first actress to have won an Academy Award for portraying a member of the opposite sex. Hunt is also the only actress ever to win an Academy Award for playing a man, with no cross dressing or gender confusion involved. Hilary Swank (Boys Don't Cry (1999)) received one for playing a biological female, who identifies as a man, while Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love (1998)) received one for playing a woman, pretending to be a man, pretending to be a woman.
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Director Peter Weir cast Linda Hunt in the role of Billy Kwan, after failing to find an actor who could play the part in the way he wanted.
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Mel Gibson has said of the threats to the film: "It wasn't really that bad. We got a lot of death threats to be sure, but I just assumed that when there are so many, it must mean nothing is really going to happen. I mean, if they meant to kill us, why send a note?"
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Much of the non-English dialogue in the film is in Filipino, not Javanese. For example, when Billy visits the house of a dead child in a slum area, the prayer spoken by the old man is, in fact, "Our Father" in Tagalog.
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Vangelis's electronic tune "L'Enfant" (from his 1979 Opera Sauvage album), which is featured prominently in this film, was Hugh Hudson's original choice to be the theme music for Chariots of Fire (1981). It was only after Vangelis finally persuaded Hudson to listen to his new, and now familiar, "Chariots of Fire" tune, that Hudson changed his mind.
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This film was banned in Indonesia until 1999. The movie was banned there by former Indonesian dictator Suharto for its graphic depiction of his tumultuous and bloody rise to power in the 1960s. The picture was finally first screened in Indonesia on November 6, 2000, two years after Suharto had been forced from office, after thirty-two years of autocratic rule.
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Mel Gibson once said of Guy Hamilton, as published on February 24, 1983 in the article "Mel Gibson: Australia's new hunk": "He's not a silver-tongued devil. He's kind of immature, and he has some rough edges, and I guess you could say the same for me."
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The meaning and relevance of the title, is that it refers to a famous Italian quotation, "vivere pericolosamente", which translates into the English language as "living dangerously". Indonesian President Suharto used this phrase during his National Day Speech on August 17, 1964. E-Notes states that the novel "takes its title from Sukarno's term for 1965, the year in which the novel takes place."
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Mel Gibson received first billing, Sigourney Weaver received second, Bill Kerr received third, Michael Murphy received fourth, Linda Hunt received fifth, and Noel Ferrier received sixth. Since the success of the film winning a Best Actress in a Supporting Role Academy Award for Linda Hunt, Hunt's credit in promotional materials is now often seen in third billing.
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Actors Joel Grey, Bob Balaban, and Wallace Shawn all auditioned for the part of Billy Kwan.
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With a budget of six million dollars, this was, at the time, one of the most expensive and ambitious Australian films ever undertaken.
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Filming was originally intended to take place in Jakarta. However, permission to shoot in Indonesia was denied, so the majority of the movie was filmed in the Philippines, in and around Manila. Note the presence of vehicles, such as the black Chevrolet, with left hand drive. Indonesians generally operate right hand drive.
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Filming in Manila was halted after three weeks, due to death threats to the production. Reportedly, these were directed to Mel Gibson and Peter Weir. The threats alleged that the film being made, was intended to be anti-Islam. For the protection and safety of the cast and crew, the whole production moved to Sydney, to complete principal photography. The move was costly, and put a huge strain on the picture's Art Department.
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The novel was loosely inspired by the experiences of author C.J. Koch's brother, Philip Koch, an Australian reporter, living and working in Indonesia during the mid 1960s.
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Breakthrough film role of Linda Hunt.
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This film was part of a cycle of pictures made during the 1980s that featured journalists covering war. The movies include Salvador (1986), Under Fire (1983), Circle of Deceit (1981), Deadline (1987), Cry Freedom (1987), The Killing Fields (1984), and The Year of Living Dangerously (1982).
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Reportedly, Peter Weir beat Producer Jim McElroy to obtaining the rights to C.J. Koch's novel by one day. The two then decided to collaborate on this film.
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Pre-release and pre-production publicity referred to the name of Linda Hunt as Phipps Hunt, or L. Phipps Hunt. Hunt's full name at birth was Lydia Susanna Hunter.
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Playing an Asian dwarf in this movie, Linda Hunt's height at the time of this film, was reported in Time Magazine as being four foot nine inches.
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The source novel won the National Book Council Award for Australian Literature, as well as newspaper The Age's Book of the Year Award, including being the winner of the 1978 Imaginative Writing Prize, and the 1978 Book of the Year, joint winner.
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According to the January-February 1983 edition of American movie magazine "Coming Attractions", during filming, "At one point, during a reenactment of the 1965 storming of the American embassy, the action became so real, that pistol shots were fired over the crowd to restore order, when more than a thousand extras got carried away hurling stones at the building. This incident, along with a bomb threat from militant Muslims, precipitated the crew's return to Australia ahead of schedule."
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Second and final theatrical feature film collaboration to date of Peter Weir and Mel Gibson. The first was Gallipoli (1981).
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CBS Films was originally attached to making this movie around 1980, but dropped the project while in development.
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Pre-release publicity in the U.S. for this film, had the film called simply "Living Dangerously".
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Linda Hunt predominantly had theater experience, but little film experience when she was cast.
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After Gallipoli (1981), this is the second and final film that Peter Weir and David Williamson made together.
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The only time Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver have worked together on-screen.
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The January-February 1983 edition of American "Coming Attractions" magazine, states that this movie marked "The first time that an Australian movie has been fully financed and distributed by a major American motion picture company - MGM/UA." The website, "Allmovie.com", adds that "The film was financed by MGM, in the first such American-Australian financial collaboration." while the website, "Wikipedia.com", maintains that this film "Was the first co-production of Australia and a Hollywood studio."
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First major role in a motion picture for Linda Hunt.
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This film was released four years after the source novel was published.
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Second time Mel Gibson and Bill Kerr worked together albeit indirectly; "Gallipoli" and the "Year of Living Dangerously".
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David Atkins was originally cast in the role of Billy Kwan.
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Dramatic creative differences on this film occurred between C.J. Koch and Peter Weir.
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One of two Australian movies, made in 1982, that were set in Asia, with romance, amidst a backdrop of political turmoil and unrest. The other was Far East (1982).
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Average Shot Length = ~5.2 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~4.9 seconds.
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Linda Hunt's Best Supporting Actress Oscar win was this film's only Oscar nomination.
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First filmed adaptation of a novel by C.J. Koch. The second and final to date was the unsuccessful Boys in the Island (1990).
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Screenwriter David Williamson was brought in after CBS Films withdrew from developing this movie.
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This movie represents an instance where a character in the film has the same name of a real life celebrity. Mel Gibson plays an Australian journalist character who has the same name as Guy Hamilton, a British film director of adventure, war, and thriller films, including four James Bond movies.
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This film was released seventeen years after the events depicted in the film took place.
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Prior to this film being made, Phillip Noyce was also interested in directing an adaptation of the novel.
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The full name of C.J. Koch, the author of the source novel, is Christopher John Koch.
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Linda Hunt replaced David Atkins in the role of Billy Kwan.
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The film includes two Oscar winners: Mel Gibson and Linda Hunt; and one Oscar nominee: Sigourney Weaver.
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The car that was used throughout the film is a 1964 Chevrolet Impala sedan. What is rather unique about this Impala sedan is that this sedan sports a very subdued exterior trim and very basic/plain interior for an Impala. This is a common pratice for a foriegn built Chevrolet at that time. The overseas built Impalas were basically plain as American built Chevrolet Biscaynes for fleet purposes. Overseas built Chevrolets were usually powered by a 235 inline six cylinder with a 3 speed manual or a 283 2bbl V8 with a Powerglide automatic.
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Linda Hunt's Oscar winning performance in this film is her only Academy Award nomination.
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Cameo 

Mark Egerton: The film's Australian shoot Production Supervisor, and First Assistant Director, as an Embassy Aide.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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