Disclaimer: this little piece is less about the movie Australia and more about how sexuality is portrayed in the movies.
Australia is too much for my tastes: too long (at about 2 hours and 40 minutes), it’s too predictable, and it tries too hard to incorporate and pattern itself after two great movies made in 1939 (Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz), which is the time of the movie’s setting.
The picture’s chain of events predictably leads the co-stars to each other and to love. They kiss passionately and then they give each other the we must have sex look and proceed. Then of course, they begin the mandatory living together. And once again, another movie is tainted because the people being held up before us have a passion so strong they can’t keep their clothes on, yet not so overwhelming that they want to make a serious, mature commitment like getting married. So they have no commitment, no consequence sex. (Really, when is the last time a leading character in a movie contracted an STD? Atonement is the last movie I can think of where negative consequences were attached to a sexual encounter outside of marriage). In fairness to Australia, it’s quite minimal in its overt portrayal of their sexual relationship (one scene). Still, it’s like turning on a light switch—once it’s on, everything is viewed in that light.
If the Scripture teaches we’re a little lower than the angels, Hollywood’s message is that we’re barely above the animals. It’s a powerful message that is repeated over and over by the entertainment industry that tells us they don’t shape values they merely reflect them (unless of course, they’re being recognized for positive social change for which they’ll gladly take credit). In homes where the media is the primary shaper of morality, kids hardly have a chance. Such behavior is set forth as the norm. Our culture worries and frets over the problems associated with teenage sex, unplanned pregnancies, and transmission of STD’s, all the while feeding their hormonally charged minds a steady diet of unrestrained sex. What hypocrisy!
This is all sad because God created the sexual relationship to be so much more than just a physical coupling that takes place in the heat of the moment. When practiced according to directions (i.e., within the marriage relationship), it expresses the nurture, intimacy, and commitment of oneness that is unique to the husband and wife relationship. It is out of this context that children are intended to enter the world.
I’ve said nothing new here and I suppose this is just a lament for the way things are and a prayer that we’ll be convicted to repent and move in our Father’s direction. This can be done. In fact, the movie Cold Mountain did this. Not only did the two main characters (Ada and Inman), have enough respect for each other and the sexual relationship that they wanted to first be married, but I can think of at least four instances in the picture where illicit sex had negative consequences. Whether there was intent in this or not, we need more movies like this!
Sexuality is a gift from God. It can be treated that way and enjoyed. Or it can be abused and we suffer the consequences. “Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex,” (Hebrews 13:4, The Message).