The 2008 epic love letter to his native country was a box office dud when it hit theaters over a decade ago and critics were mostly “meh” on the whole thing. But its reputation has grown over the years, helped by frequent showings on cable, streaming and the like, and it sounds as though the director wasn’t done tinkering with a movie that, charitably, was a whole lot better than people gave it credit for at the time.
Now, word comes from down under that “Australia” will be reimagined as a six-part limited series titled “Faraway Downs” to be released exclusively as a Hulu Original in the U.S. and a Star Original on Disney+ and Star+ in international markets. That means every sweeping shot of Australia’s rugged outbreak, every penetrating look of barely suppressed romantic longing between Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman will be allowed to breath. Nothing, it seems, will have to be left on the cutting room floor. Heck, if it was good enough for “Justice League”…
The six-episode director’s cut is scheduled to debut this winter and will be comprised of footage that was captured for the film, while offering an expanded, serialized version of the story. Luhrmann and company are also promising a new ending and an updated soundtrack.
“I originally set out to take the notion of the sweeping ‘Gone With the Wind’ style epic and turn it on its head,” Luhrmann, fresh off his box office hit “Elvis,” explained. “A way of using romance and epic drama to shine a light on the roles of First Nations people and the painful scar in Australian history of the ‘Stolen Generations.’”
Luhrmann went on to explain that “while ‘Australia’ the film has its own life, there was another telling of this story.” It’s one that includes “alternative plot twists that an episodic format has allowed us to explore.”
“Baz is one of the world’s great auteur storytellers, so revisiting ‘Faraway Downs’ and experiencing his incredible film Australia in this unique, new episodic format has been a revelatory and unique adventure,” added Craig Erwich, president of Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment. “We look forward to taking viewers into the ranch and to experiencing all of the stories that are both held within and continue to unfold there.”
For those who might have given the feature film a skip, the story centers on English aristocrat, Lady Sarah Ashley (Kidman) who inherits Faraway Downs, a large cattle ranch in Australia following the death of her husband. When Australian cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn (is there any other kind?) cattle drover (Jackman) to protect her ranch. The story also involves young Nullah (Brandon Walters), a bi-racial Indigenous Australian child caught up in the government’s draconian racial policy now referred to as the “Stolen Generations.” The whole thing is set against the backdrop of World War II for maximum swoon-worthy epic-ness.
“Faraway Downs” will be executive produced by Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Schuyler Weiss, and Catherine Knapman. 20th Television is the studio behind the feature.
“Drawn from the same material, ‘Faraway Downs’ is a new variation on ‘Australia’ for audiences to discover,” Luhrmann promised.
Now, hurry up Baz and give us the six-episode version of “Moulin Rouge!” we’ve all been waiting for.