There is certainly something about Australian films that set them apart. Love or hate them, the list of famous Aussie movies is as long as your arm. For a country that has a relatively small film industry, some truly outstanding films have graced the silver screen. Films such as ‘’Breaker’ Morant’ (1980) and ‘The Year My Voice Broke’ (1987) have set the bar high for Aussie filmmakers. Strictly Ballroom (1992) and ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ (1994) struck a chord in many a heart, and ‘The Dish’ (2000) and ‘Happy Feet’ (2006) have firmly stood their ground on the world scale.
Australia claims the honour of releasing the world’s first full-length feature film, ‘The Story of the Kelly Gang’ (1906). It was a roaring success and subsequently launched the Australian Film industry. These early years of movie-making focused on the forging of the Australian identity, films such as ‘The Sentimental Bloke’ (1919) and ‘For the Term of His Natural Life’ (1927). Yet, the success felt by this fledgling industry was short lived. The 1920s and 1930s were lean years for Aussie movies when both the American and British film industries took over the world stage. Although stories about the emerging Australian nation proved popular on the domestic front, there was little interest on the world market for colonial themes and menacing bushrangers.
The Australian film industry truly kicked into gear in the 1970s. Between 1970 and 1985 nearly 400 movies were produced. Filmmakers bravely began to tackle a wide selection of genres. This era of Aussie movies saw the release of classics such as ‘Walkabout’ (1971). 1979 saw Mel Gibson presented to a global audience in the first of the ‘Mad Max’ films. The highly acclaimed ‘Man from Snowy River’ (1982), along with ‘Crocodile Dundee’ (1986) initiated a massive influx of tourists to Australian shores.
‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ (1994) and ‘Moulin Rouge!’ (2001) blended colour and music with the dry, witty Australian humour, and was embraced by international audiences. The stirring dramas of Romper Stomper (1992), ‘Japanese Story’ (2003) and ‘The Proposition’ (2006) caused ripples across the industry. To shortlist awarding-winning Aussie films is difficult, much less singling out a handful to be classified as ‘the best’. Regardless of what is listed, every Australian will dispute the results, spouting dozens of titles ashamedly missed. Australia has continuously produced films that have audiences seeking more.