Emerald City (1988) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • A couple move to Sydney from a small town, and soon become lured by the bright lights of the big city. Colin, the scriptwriter husband, is corrupted by his editor and then falls for his wife, whilst Colin's wife Kate begins to lose sight of her ideals in a new world of hustlers and cynics.


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  • A comedy of life's temptations - lust, greed and power. The city in question is Sydney and the colour green signifies greed and envy in David Williamsons amusing satire on its film and publishing industries. The story centers around the Rogers family, loosely modelled on Williamson's own. They have recently moved from Melbourne to Sydney. Colin (John Hargreaves) is Australia's most successful screenwriter (like Williamson), but currently down on his luck. He doesn't want to make what he perceives as a "movie of the week" about Tony Sanzari an amusement park hijacking that is offered to him by his agent, Elaine Ross (Ruth Cracknell), but a story about the coastwatchers of World War II, because his uncle was one, and it was Australia's great contribution to the war. His wife, Kate (Robyn Nevin), is a book editor and wants to publish a novel by Aboriginal writer Kath Mitchell (Michelle Torres) titled Black Rage, but her publisher, Ian Wall (Nicholas Hammond), says "Blacks don't sell books." They have three children, Penny (Ella Scott), who has been frequenting a disco called Downmarket, Hannah, whose teachers say she is depressed, and Sam (Haydon Samuels), whom Colin fears Kate is encouraging to be gay. Colin teams with a womanizing hack writer named Mike McCord (Chris Haywood) to work on Coastwatchers, who hates the idea, but wants his name on the film as co-writer because it's an instant status boost in the industry, even though he is primarily just typing dictation. When he hears of Kate's problem, he prank calls Ian Wall, accuses him of racism, and threatens that a group of militants will mob the publishing house if he doesn't publish Black Rage. Coastwatchers proves a ratings disaster, so Mike latches onto Colin for another project, a rip-off of Miami Vice set in Australia and loaded with Australianisms. Malcolm Bennett (Dennis Miller), who usually finances Colin's productions, advises him to get back with Elaine because his project is "shit". "So is Miami Vice," Colin responds. "That's classy shit;" Malcolm tells him, "this is absolute shit." The difference is that the writers of Miami Vice are writing at the best of their abilities, while the fact that Colin is writing below his level is painfully obvious. During this time, Colin becomes attracted to Mike's girlfriend, Helen Davey (Nicole Kidman), but ultimately draws the line in the friendship and avoids cheating on his wife. Ultimately, Kath Mitchell is nominated for the Booker Prize, and Kate accompanies her and Ian Wall to the awards ceremony, though she does not win. Although Kate tells Colin that Ian looks like a "garden gnome" she admits that she was unfaithful. A disillusioned Colin returns to Elaine Ross and accepts the project she offered him. Elaine calls Sydney "The Emerald city of Oz. Everyone comes here along their yellow brick roads looking for the answers to their problems and all they find are the demons within themselves."...

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