I often laugh as a film critic when I see somebody try to compare one film to another when really the films actually don’t share that much in common. That is certainly the case with the brand new Australian film The Flood. As soon as the trailer landed people were comparing it to The Nightingale.
Now I will admit that The Flood does share some similar themes – revenge and retribution (but so does a million other films out there on the market) and it does explore indigenous culture, although to say that it explores the same aspects of indigenous culture as The Nightingale I would have to say is incredibly narrow minded.
Directed by Victoria Wharfe McIntyre (Miro) The Flood explores several themes that I have found to have been sadly not explored on the Australian cinematic landscape. Topics such as indigenous Australians fighting for Australia in war and the brutal rapes that many First Nation’s women had to endure at the hands of the white settlers.
The film centres around Jarah Banganha (Alexis Lane – Cleverman) who during the time of World War II watches as her family is ripped apart by the new ‘laws’ introduced by white settlers including the cruel Gerald Mackay (Peter McAllum – The War At Home) and his son (Dean Kyrwood – Water Horse). While Jarah experiences the first hand cruelty delivered by the settlers her anger is further fuelled when her husband Waru (Shaka Cook – Top End Wedding) returns from war is not treated the same way as his best friend, Minto (Aaron Jeffrey – X-Men Origins: Wolverine).
There is often a harsh diversity to The Flood. The visuals of the Australian bush from cinematographer Kevin Scott (Backburning) are truly spectacular and beautiful but at the same time the events happening in and around them are of sheer brutality. Having said that though the brutal nature of the film is in context and possibly the only way to describe what Victoria Wharfe McIntyre does with the film as similar to the style of Quentin Tarantino with Django Unchained or Inglorious Basterds.
While important themes and often forgotten parts of Australian history are explored during The Flood it is important to remember that at the heart of this film is a genre flick. Dig deep under the storyline of the film is a harsh, yet realistic western caked in revenge in desperation. The mere fact that the screenplay allows for character and character development of course means the film is a lot better than some other revenge flicks I have had to sit through over the years.
I think what I will take away from this film though is the excitement that surrounds the future of Victoria Wharfe McIntyre, Alexis Lane and Shaka Cook. I get a distinct feeling that McIntyre is going to be a great Australian director while it will not take long for Hollywood to come calling for Alexis Lane. Shaka Cook is also sensational in this film and of course has already been snapped up to be part of the Australian production of Hamilton.
While comparisons to the masterpiece that is The Nightingale is completely unfair in its own right The Flood is an amazing genre film that lifts the lid on some of the darker sides of Australian history.