GenreDrama, Mystery, Thriller Music directorCharles Wain LanguageEnglish
WriterPeter Weir, Tony Morphett, Petru Popescu Release date13 December 1977 (1977-12-13) (Australia)
January 1979 (US) CastRichard Chamberlain (David Burton), Olivia Hamnett (Annie Burton), David Gulpilil (Chris Lee (as Gulpilil)), Frederick Parslow (Rev. Burton), Vivean Gray (Dr. Whitburn), Nandjiwarra Amagula (Charlie) Similar moviesRabbit-Proof Fence, Walkabout, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Rescuers Down Under, Red Hill, Jindabyne
TaglineHasn't the weather been strange...could it be a warning?
The last wave hq trailer 2010
In Sydney, business lawyer David Burton (Richard Chamberlain) is given the pro bono assignment of defending five aborigines accused of the murder of another tribesman. None of Burtons clients are willing to speak about what happened, even in their own defense, and the medical examiner on the case cant figure out how the victim died. But whats most troubling Burton is the increasingly terrifying apocalyptic visions hes having, leading him to think Australia may soon be destroyed.
The Last Wave (released as Black Rain in the United States) is an Australian mystery drama film from 1977, directed by Peter Weir. It is about a white solicitor in Sydney whose seemingly normal life is disrupted after he takes on a murder case and discovers that he shares a strange, mystical connection with the small group of local Australian Aborigines accused of the crime.
White Australian lawyer David Burton agrees with reluctance to defend a group of aborigines charged with murdering one of their own. He suspects the victim was targeted for violating a tribal taboo, but the defendants deny any tribal association. Burton, plagued by apocalyptic visions of water, slowly realizes danger may come from his own involvement with the aborigines and their prophecies.
The last wave peter weir 1977 opening credits
The film opens with a montage of scenes of daily life in Australia in the 1970s: a rural school in the desert, the main street of an outback town, a traffic jam in the city, all being affected by unusually adverse weather conditions that suddenly appear. Only the local Aboriginal people seem to recognize the cosmological significance of these weather phenomena.
During one of these "freak rainstorms" in Sydney, an altercation occurs among a group of Aborigines in a pub, which results in the mysterious death of one of them. At the coroners inquest, the death is ruled a homicide; and four men are accused of murder. Through the Australian Legal Aid system, David Burton (Richard Chamberlain) is procured for their defence. The circumstances by which he was contacted and retained are unusual, in that his law practice is corporate taxation and not criminal defense. He nonetheless takes on the case, and his professional and personal lives begin to unravel.
Plagued by bizarre dreams, Burton begins to sense an otherworldly connection to one of the accused (David Gulpilil). He also feels connected to the increasingly strange weather phenomena besetting the city. His dreams intensify along with his obsession with the murder case, which he comes to believe is an Aboriginal tribal killing by curse, in which the victim believed. Learning more about Aboriginal practices and the concept of Dreamtime as a parallel world of existence, Burton comes to believe the strange weather bodes of a coming apocalypse.
The film climaxes in a confrontation between the lawyer and the tribes shaman in a subterranean sacred site. Overcoming the shaman, Burton escapes to the surface, but in the tunnel loses various tribal relics. After emerging from the sewer, he collapses on the beach and stares entranced at the horizon. The screen is filled by the shot of a towering ocean wave, though it remains unclear whether we are witnessing reality or sharing in Burtons final, apocalyptic premonition.
Richard Chamberlain as David Burton
Olivia Hamnett as Annie Burton
David Gulpilil as Chris Lee
Frederick Parslow as Reverend Burton
Vivean Gray as Dr Whitburn
Nandjiwarra Amagula as Charlie
Walter Amagula as Gerry Lee
Roy Bara as Larry
Cedrick Lalara as Lindsey
Morris Lalara as Jacko
Peter Carroll as Michael Zeadler
Athol Compton as Billy Corman
Hedley Cullen as Judge
Michael Duffield as Andrew Potter
Wallas Eaton as Morgue Doctor
In an interview on the Criterion Collection DVD release, director Peter Weir explains that the film explores the question, "What if someone with a very pragmatic approach to life experienced a premonition?" Entered in the 6th Tehran International Film Festival in November 1977, the film won the Golden Ibex prize.
Finance was provided by the Australian Film Commission ($120,000), the South Australian Film Corporation ($120,000), Janus Films (US$50,000) and United Artists ($350,000). US based writer Petru Popescu worked on the script. Weir considered two Australian actors to play the lead but eventually decided to go with Richard Chamberlain. Filming started 24 February 1977 and took place in Adelaide and Sydney.
The Last Wave was not as popular as Picnic at Hanging Rock but still grossed $1,258,000 at the box office in Australia, which is equivalent to $5,786,800 in 2009 dollars.
United Artists decided not to release the film in the US but it was picked up by World Northal for distribution and enjoyed a popular run.