Renowned for his cinematic masterpieces, director Baz Luhrmann has revisited his 2008 film “Australia,” reimagining it as a captivating six-part television series titled “Faraway Downs.” This ambitious project, born out of the unforeseen lull during the COVID-19 pandemic while “Elvis” was on hold, allowed Luhrmann to delve into unused footage and develop a narrative with a more profound thematic resonance.
“Faraway Downs” is set in the period between 1939 and 1942, narrating a tale that intertwines romance, adventure, and historical reflection. At its heart is the character of Sarah, an English aristocrat portrayed by Nicole Kidman, who finds herself managing “Faraway Downs,” a sprawling cattle ranch in the Australian outback. The plot thickens as she collaborates with a rugged cattle drover, played by Hugh Jackman, navigating the challenges of ranch life and a burgeoning romance.
A pivotal element of the series is the character Nullah, a young bi-racial Indigenous Australian child living on the ranch. His story highlights the painful reality of Australia’s “stolen generations” policy, a historical injustice that saw Indigenous children forcibly removed from their families. Luhrmann emphasizes this aspect, choosing to tell the story through Nullah’s perspective, thus offering a First Nations viewpoint on the events.
The series arrives at a critical juncture in Australian history. Recently, the nation faced a significant moment in its journey towards reconciliation with its Indigenous communities. A constitutional referendum proposing the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the establishment of an Indigenous advisory body, the “Voice to Parliament,” was met with disappointment. Despite being a pivotal chance for progress, the proposal was rejected, marking a setback in the country’s path to healing its historical wounds.
Luhrmann expressed his personal support for the referendum and the desires of the majority of the First Nations people. His series, “Faraway Downs,” not only aims to captivate audiences with its romantic narrative but also seeks to shed light on a darker, often overlooked chapter of Australian history. By juxtaposing a love story against the backdrop of racial policies and cultural struggles, Luhrmann hopes to engage a wide audience and perhaps influence the collective consciousness regarding the historical and ongoing challenges faced by Indigenous Australians.
“Faraway Downs” is set to begin streaming on November 25, offering viewers an immersive experience that blends historical depth with the allure of romance, set in the stunning landscapes of the Australian outback.