mythology, XXXX Gold, a giant crocodile, Ray Meagher- You canít get any
more Australian than this movie. You might find a few things to cringe
at, such as the over-use of local idioms (words like dunny, bloody, mob,
mate, and tinny are peppered through almost every line of dialogue) but
itís mostly done in the right spirit. Once you get past the opening few
shots of helicopters and yahoo-ing blokes on horses, designed to stir up
romantic notions in American viewers, thereís plenty to like about this
In the Top
End, conservationist Steve Harris (John Jarratt) has a job about his
hands trying to stop poachers from decimating the population of
saltwater crocodiles. His job only gets harder when a real monster of a
croc swims into local waters. The aboriginal townsfolk call it ĎNumunwari,Ď
and see it as an important icon of their culture. But after it kills two
fishermen and a young boy, the town sees red. A war party, led by
poacher John Besser (Max Phipps) sets out to bring the giant reptile
down, and they donít care if they wipe out every other croc in the
save the unique creature, Steve enlists the help of his aboriginal
friends Oonadabund (Burnam Burnam) and Adjaral (David Gulpilil) to try
to find another way. He puts a different strategy to his tough-as-nails
boss Garret (Ray Meagher)- A plan that involves capturing Numunwari and
moving him across land, to a secret reserve where he can live out his
days in peace.
the poachers watching Steveís every move, and his old flame Cathy (Nikki
Coghill) caught up in the trouble, the conflict quickly becomes deadly.
were to simply glance at the cover of Dark Age, it would be easy to
write the movie off as a quirky B-grade horror romp-but that would be
doing it an injustice. Itís deeper than your typical monster movie. The
title refers more to an ecological Ďdark ageí than a time when
prehistoric monsters rise and attack people. Itís about one manís fight
to preserve something old and sacred. Steve is forced to question his
own motives, just as the audience is, at every turn. Everyone seems
against him, from his developer boss to his girlfriend to the stubborn
and ignorant townsfolk.
of progress-versus-conservation runs right through the heart of this
movie, and the themes are handled well.
its B-grade aesthetic, the technical aspects are well executed. There
are some suitably dramatic lighting effects, and long, fluid camera
shots. The monster itself looks convincing, whether it be half-submerged
or in full view.
pity Dark Age wasnít made a few years earlier (or later), because we
might have avoided the horrible synthetic music that seems to make up
every film soundtrack from the 80ís, but this is a relatively minor
none to speak of, just an enlightening commentary by Jarratt and
Producer Anthony Ginnane.
While a lot of Dark Age looks and sounds archaic to
us now, the themes of conservation and wildlife protection are still
relevant. This would be good fodder for a film appreciation class (one
or two moments not being suitable for younger kids) because of the range
of film-making techniques on show and its thematic ingredients. This
movie is a long-buried gem that deserves to see the light of day. A
B-grade monster movie for the thinking person!