Watch The Last Wave
- 1 hr 46 min
In Peter Weir's 1977 film, The Last Wave, a lawyer named David Burton (Richard Chamberlain) gradually succumbs to strange and unnerving visions after he is tasked with defending a group of young Aboriginal men accused of murder. With the help of Chris Lee (David Gulpilil), a traditional Aboriginal man who serves as his interpreter and guide, David begins to uncover unsettling truths about Australia's colonial past and the ancient spiritual practices that endure into the present day. At the heart of The Last Wave's eerie and hypnotic narrative is the idea that the boundary between the rational, scientific worldview of the Western world and the mystical, enigmatic realm of Aboriginal belief is not as clear-cut as it seems. As David delves deeper into his investigation, he discovers that his own dreams and visions are not just random occurrences, but part of a larger pattern that may be tied to a catastrophic event that is prophesied to occur at the end of the "last wave." The film is notable for its evocative cinematography and sound design, which create an atmosphere of ambiguity and unease that is perfectly suited to its themes of cultural collision and psychic ambiguity. Weir makes deft use of lighting, shadow, and striking visual juxtapositions to blur the lines between reality and fantasy, as when David is bathed in an eerie red glow from the ceiling of an otherworldly cave or when the camera lingers on the shifting patterns of light and shadow in a darkened street. At the same time, The Last Wave is grounded in a sharp sense of the political and cultural context of its subject matter. Against the backdrop of a nation that is grappling with the legacy of its colonial past and the ongoing struggles of its Indigenous people, Weir explores how the gap between different ways of knowing and experiencing the world can lead to violence and oppression, but also to moments of profound insight and connection. Richard Chamberlain delivers a haunting and complex performance as David, a man whose faith in rationality and order is gradually eroded by his encounters with Aboriginal culture and spirituality. His portrayal of a man on the brink of a spiritual awakening is by turns understated and intense, and he brings a sense of nuance to a role that could have easily fallen into caricature or stereotype. David Gulpilil, a renowned Indigenous actor and performer, also shines in his role as Chris. He exudes a quiet strength and wisdom that provides a counterpoint to David's more cerebral approach to the world, and his presence on screen is a reminder of the importance of listening to and learning from different cultural perspectives. Overall, The Last Wave is a thought-provoking and visually striking film that defies easy categorization. It is part legal drama, part supernatural thriller, and part meditation on the complexities of cultural exchange and understanding. It is a film that invites us to question our assumptions about the world and the people who inhabit it, and to embrace the possibility of a more open-minded and compassionate approach to life.