Directed by: Peter Weir
Starring: Richard Chamberlain, Olivia Hamnett, David Gulpilil, Frederick Parslow
Show has been cancelledThe 2008 review: Until recently, I hadn’t seen Peter Weir’s The Last Wave (1977) for close to 30 years, and I was surprised to find that time has been unusually kind to it. In some ways, this story of the impending destruction of humankind by meteorological forces has simply gained relevance in our age of global warming, but it’s more than that. I was never completely sold on the film’s greatness or on its much-praised “striking visuals,” and I’m not sure that’s changed (I’d call its visuals more effective and intelligent than striking). But its creepiness is undeniable, and it seems far less dated than many late 1970s films.
The story of an Australian barrister (Richard Chamberlain) called on to defend a group of Aborigines on a charge of murder — only to find himself enacting a predestined role in an ancient prophecy — is not as impenetrable as has sometimes been suggested. However, it’s all so firmly grounded in the realm of “mood piece” that many will find it slow going — and the enigmatic ending will undoubtedly fail to satisfy some. (Weir’s own statement of what the final shots mean still gets a big “If you say so” from me.) Still, it’s a film worth examining — and one of maybe four movies to do right by the underrated Richard Chamberlain.
Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present The Last Wave Friday, Feb. 14, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com
In Brief: SHOW HAS BEEN CANCELLED. World Cinema is bringing back Peter Weir’s occult thriller The Last Wave (1977). This is the film that brought Weir to even greater international attention than his Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) had. Seen today, it’s an imperfect affair that benefits from its intensely creepy atmosphere, but it suffers from a too-deliberate pace and a slightly arty tone. It’s still rewarding and interesting, however.