Iconic Australian Films that aren’t Crocodile Dundee

If you want to find some ripper cinematic representations of Aussie culture Mick Dundee himself would warn you’ll be ‘flat out like a lizard drinkin’ separating the top contenders from what really is the friendliest place on earth. No place to start looking like Bojangles though. I’ll just get my jacket…. 

  1. Chopper 

An Australian crime drama film based on the autobiographical books of a notorious Australian criminal Mark “Chopper” Read, played by Eric Bana. Set in Melbourne’s seedy underworld it follows his colourful life and encapsulates his time in prison, interspersed with occasional dark humour and memorable one-liners. Don’t tell me you’ve already seen it… you’ll upset your Mum!! 

  1. Red Dog.

I mean, I’ve heard it’s a classic. I haven’t actually watched it because I saw it significantly mess up a lady with a headset on a Qantas flight on a trip overseas and there was no way I was going to make that mistake in front of a flight full of strange passengers. And now that I have an adorable red working breed dog of my own, I’m not exactly about to change my mind, am I? Marley and Me did me in hard enough. 

  1. Looking for Alibrandi 

Originally a book by Melina Marchetta, this flick featured Pia Miranda who played lead Josephine Alibrandi. As a high school student Josie was dealing with the trials and tribulations of life as an only daughter in an Italian immigrant family while attending an elite Catholic private girls’ school in Sydney.  This narrative has the capacity to evoke both laughter and tears, particularly during more gut-wrenching scenes that addressed the premature death of a young teen played by Matthew Newton. Thank Christ that Jacob Coote from Cook High was around to prove a welcome and seamless distraction to soothe our fickle if not callous young minds back in the early 2000s. 

  1. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert This one was released in 1994 and plots the journey across Australia’s outback by two drag queens and a transgender woman on a tour bus dubbed “Priscilla”. A worldwide hit worth over $29.7 million at the box office, this movie helped bring LGBTQI+ themes to mainstream audiences, all with a touch of with glitz, glamour costumes and good humour to boot. Who knew it would have just the right recipe to put Australia’s iconic outback on the global stage? It literally turned out to be just what the country needed: a cock in a frock on a rock. 
  1. Muriel ‘s Wedding Muriel doesn’t really need an introduction, (well mainly only to say that she’s terrible) and far less still does her wedding. A comedy drama film directed by Paul Hogan and released in 1994, it focuses on the socially awkward character Muriel (played by Toni Collette). With a fantasy of leaving her dead-end hometown Muriel pursues a better life. The film earned rave reviews, a Golden Globe award nomination and was later adapted to stage for a theatrical musical production spectacular. And who can blame a young ABBA fan for wanting to be married and beautiful anyway? She deserves happiness even if she did jilt Tim Sims after flogging her parents’ life savings because she couldn’t afford an overseas tropical vacay on an multi level marketing wage with the Porpoise Spit equivalent of Mary Kay and literally no fucking friends. Not trying to sound ungrateful but Deidre Chambers set her up with that – NOT a coincidence.  
  1. Weekend at Bernie’s.

Who doesn’t love a playboy type mansion, jetskis, good weather and the hilarity of having to cart around a dead guy? Anyway, kidding. It was obviously an American film but timeless nonetheless and a really enjoyable watch. Still hanging out for Bernie Returns for revenge # 3. Why wasn’t it a trilogy, anyway?

7. The Castle.

Last but by no means least, this one brings us home and sends us straight to the poolroom. A classic Australian comedy film released in 1997 featuring Eric Bana, it was shot over eleven days with a budget of $750,000. It grossed over 10 million at the box office. The films self-deprecating humour plays on Australia’s working-class notion that ‘a man’s home is his castle.’ The one-liners and will have you chortling, thus endearing you to Aussie qualities, quirks and plights including that of the under-dog seeking a fair go. But waddya call this one, darl? Genius. 

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Naomi Fryers is a writer, author, TEDx speaker and storyteller from Melbourne, Australia.

A former editor at The Good Men Project her words have been featured in Elephant Journal, Yahoo Lifestyle!,  Women’s Agenda and The Huffington Post. Her debut book, ‘A Very Long Way’ is available in audio at Barnes and Noble.  

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