Last Wave, The (1977)

The Last Wave (1977), directed by Peter Weir.

Aka Black Rain.

Strange happenings in Australia: thunder from a cloudless sky, hail in the desert, odd rainbows and torrential rain in the city. Frogs. Black rain. (Much more of that and I'd let the Israelites go).

When a group of Aborigines are accused of killing one of their own (the cause of death being mysterious) tax lawyer Richard Chamberlain volunteers to defend them. Although accused of romanticizing a tribal culture that barely exists anymore, he begins to think they have secrets and are practicing magic.

He starts seeing disturbing, inexplicable things and learns that he is part of the mystery: they believe him to be a known spiritual visitor who has prophetic dreams at the end of a cycle of the world, just before the Apocalypse. "I feel myself being taken by Otherness and I don't know what to do." And the owls are not what they seem.

It's pretty well done, nicely atmospheric, although a familiar story of discovering the awful truth: that the world is not what you think it is, of the disorientation when reality shifts. The question is how long do we keep our guy in suspense? I might have tightened this up a couple of minutes. The courtroom drama doesn't contribute much.

David Gulpilil was last seen in Walkabout (1971).

The score is a combination of moody electronic and traditional Aborigine.

Criterion DVD.