The land down under or more formally, Australia is the subject of the 2008 titular movie and likely, it’s one that tends to fall prey to misconceptions like being nothing more than an epic over-long, romanticized drama that has been pegged as “boring” when in reality that idea is misleading. Don’t let a Gone with the Wind picture fool you, it can stand on its own and then some. It’s a beautiful story even though told in a land of unforgiving beauty that unfolds to not only be, yes, a love story, but one of loss, comedy and imagination, that eventually coincides with fate, and all historical perspectives aside emphasis is placed on some serious topics that interestingly enough, are still relevant to our culture today. What most of us won’t recognize in this film is the blatant and sometimes unpleasant ways the film depicts racists. Moviegoers are treated to quite the education about racism – even if it is in the loosest sense of the term “education.”
Australia follows the proper English rose, Lady Sarah Ashley as she travels from her home country to the land her husband has been inhabiting, trying to make a ranch prove successful. Upon her arrival, Sarah discovers that only recently her husband died leaving her the only one with a claim to her husbands lands and holdings, only before she can travel home again it becomes painfully obvious that an Australian not only wants the rights to her husbands land but has cheated him. Instead of packing it in and taking the easiest way out, something bids Sarah remain in the foreign land and make a go of it. Even with the help of a handsome, impulsive, and insanely annoying drover, Sarah has no idea just what difficulty awaits her. The character of Sarah surprises us in her openness (typically towards those considered “outcasts”) and obvious heartfelt willingness to love, finding strength where no one else thought she would.
Ironically enough as I was plodding along on this article trying to tie everything neatly together, one particular week in Sunday school class revolved around cultures and how we all are related or descendents from the first man and woman – Adam and Eve. Having this connection really excited me because Australia delves into cultural backgrounds heavily, even concealed beneath a romantic epic: Only in these scripter’s minds it’s construed as a racial divide. Without Adam and Eve, there aren’t human beings, regardless of skin color. It was very interesting to hear this lesson – really, we all have the same make-up. Racial separation is one of the biggest “misunderstandings” in our culture today, because that is all that is different from we humans – it isn’t the color of our skin, but rather that our backgrounds are so different. In general it is us – the people who have created racial divides, whether real or “imagined.” The secular world wants us to believe something different. Society wants us to think that racism is one-sided, but as Christians what they pound into us and what we chose to believe is two completely different things. If we believe in God’s Word – that all things were created by Him, and he created Eve from Adam, then it follows that we have to consider all humans were descended from them. The basis by which the world would have us live really comes down to one thing; prejudice.
Amidst gorgeous, sweeping shots of cinematography, Australia tackles this very subject in some of its most heartless forms involving a small child, a child Sarah unconditionally embraces. The boy is just searching for a place to call home; even pre-dating WWII, many racial/social separations were so drilled into him that he didn’t feel as if he had a place to feel safe, protected, loved. Even the semblance of security he experiences for a time is cruelly ripped out from under him. I wasn’t raised to be prejudicial, and I haven’t become that way. But the truth is, we are going to be different: We all are different, whether it’s simply the color of our hair, or personal convictions that is normal in life. Irrespective of individual personalities, there are different races/language barriers because of how sin changed the world. To see it so simply spelled out in that one Sunday school session was fascinating, and makes it seem all the more ridiculous when we (“we” meaning as a society) still are confronting this today.
Isn’t it interesting that when we look to the Bible as our “source” and not accept what the world’s scientist’s say, in a roundabout way, just as young Nullah so wanted, perhaps the greatest barrier which divides us is where we call home…?