Editor’s Note: This article contains SPOILERS. If you don’t want to know how Australia ends, read no further. Consider yourself warned. Also, consider yourself unusual for caring about the ending of this film.
Personally, I don’t really care that much about spoiling this movie for myself despite the fact that I actually am mildly looking forward to it. But no matter how lukewarm I am about Luhrmann’s latest offering, I feel far stronger about Hollywood using test audiences to change a director’s vision.
According to The Australian Herald Sun, Luhrmann folded to studio pressure to change the ending of his film after the death of its main character – played by Hugh Jackman – was a total downer. Apparently, killing heroes at the end of a film is a little too sad clown for test audiences. Seriously. A ton of the test reviewers highly suggested that that version of the ending change. Probably since it evoked some strong emotions from them. Which, art should. Never. Do.
The studio listened. And apparently they made Baz listen.
Which is the real tragedy here. I’m an unapologetic fan of Luhrmann’s work. I think he does really well with telling strong character-stories that end with death. Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge! were made stronger because of the tragic element. It’s unclear whether Jackman’s character’s death is a truly warranted, tragic one, but with Luhrmann, I would guess it likely – so his riding off into the sunset might feel forced and…Hollywood-y. Since, admittedly, it is.
So the original vision for the film has been compromised by focus groups. It makes economic sense with the gigantic bill the studio is footing for this massive project, but it’s still a little sad. Perhaps the studio could have saved everyone some time by having the focus group on set to help direct the film, too.
What do you think? Do you care about Australia or its ending? Or its changed ending?