Peter Weir’s The Last Wave takes place in Australia and early in the film parts of the country are subjected to some unusual, violent weather.
So far this year of two-thousand and fourteen has been a bit bitter. I’ve been more and more reluctant to engage in personal affairs through the online medium, but it’s definitely been a struggle to fend of large and colossal waves of misanthropy about the state of world, and the creeping demons that linger around in London in the form of money, gentrification and… well, I don’t need to go into it. Maybe things come in waves and I’ll find inspiration again soon, as it has before. Maybe I need some sort of shaking out of habit. Who knows.
And with this state of world affairs there has been a lot of concern about the odd weather we’ve been having, likely due do our dumbfounded addition to pollutants and creating a sticky, money-based mess that makes it difficult to allow innovation and ideas to radically shift things in a positive direction. England in particular had a robust serving of rain in February, leaving many parts of the country flooded and many in their Western world bubble in a state of shock.
I haven’t seen the film in a while, but it brought back images and feelings from Australian director Peter Weir’s The Last Wave (1977), which I followed up on watching a year or two based on my admiration for work he’d done with the strange, occult film The Cars That Ate Paris (1974) or the dreamy, atmospheric paranormal mystery that is Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975), a favourite of mine.
The Last Wave takes place in Australia and early in the film parts of the country are subjected to some unusual, violent weather: hailstorms in the outback, torrential sheets of rain in the cities. The film then switches focus to a murder of a man by a group of other fellow native Australians. Where the motive was originally thought to be over a tribal tattoo the suspects deny any sort of tribal associations. A corporate taxation lawyer called David Barton, played by Richard Chamberlain, is unusually selected to take on this case which falls in another field of criminal law.
The film develops, unveiling strange connections between Barton and his legal clients. Barton starts having strange visions and otherworldly connections with the accused and starts to feel how that connection relates to the strange weather that’s been happening all around him. The atmosphere and unease of Weir’s directorial work pulls you into that feeling, along with a droning, dark soundtrack featuring organic and synthesized instrumentation (some sampled for the Soft Riot live set).
Is this all leading to a coming apocalypse? The end shots of the scene show Barton’s face in hopeless despair as he sees what might be large, tsunami waves coming toward the shoreline.
This isn’t a heavy action film, neither is the motive or back story shoved in your face. The feeling, mood and the inplications it suggests are what works for this film. Also, the representive elements of the film for a greater dilemma for our world that exists outside of the film make it one to watch if you can get your hands on it! It’s a hard one to find…