We are all supposed to become ecstatic when the Premier or one of his ministers announces the latest Hollywood blockbuster to be filmed in Sydney, lured here with a swag of generous government concessions. The moviemakers supposedly inject millions into the local economy and employ hundreds from the Australian film industry. But is there a piece of the Tinseltown action that we are missing out on?
We are talking biblical epics – not the kind of low budget sword and sandal sagas that used to fill TV screens every Good Friday, but multi-million dollar productions like the forthcoming Noah starring Russell Crowe or Ridley Scott’s extravaganza Exodus. It’s no secret that Mel Gibson’s Passion Of The Christ, one of the bloodiest and most violent movies ever made, grossed a staggering $600 million plus and proved once and for all there is box office gold in the oldest story ever told.
Australia needs to take the initiative and become more than just a film set and production house for all the predictable Hollywood claptrap. There’s no reason why we couldn’t corner the market in modern day biblical blockbusters whilst adding our own antipodean spin. The possibilities are endless. We might have missed the boat (so to speak) with the soon to be released Noah but what about a homegrown spinoff restricted to all Australian fauna? We could put somebody like John Jarratt in the crusty lead role refloating one of the old Manly ferries to rescue the critters against a global warming-induced tsunami-like apocalypse. Throw in a touch of Dr. Doolittle and you could have an all-singing, all-dancing version with a chorus line of wombats and bilbies. Baz, where are you?
Of course it doesn’t all need to be frivolous and there are some great biblical stories just crying out for the big screen. The 1962 Franco-Italian-American production Sodom and Gomorrah was a salacious romp through the Old Testament’s version of Number 96 with its sordid tale of the notorious twin cities. We are immediately thinking Albury-Wodonga and a brilliant piece of contemporary product placement as Lot’s wife is transformed into a giant package of low sodium Saxa salt as she dares to look back across the border at naughty old Sodom.
We could even cater for the ever-growing number of creationists; both here and in the US, with a kind of Adam and Eve meet the Flintstones hybrid. It’s common knowledge that many creationists believe dinosaurs roamed the earth during the book of Genesis and what better place to film the above than Clive Palmer’s neo-jurassic park at Coolum? Clive himself would make a superb Barney Rubble – a portly messenger from God whose mission it is to tell Adam and his girlfriend to go forth and multiply. Yabba dabba doo!
Come on Australia, there are more good stories in the Bible than in the entire literary output of Shakespeare and Barbara Cartland put together. The best thing of all, nobody owns the copyright, unless you truly believe that it is all the word of God. That could be a problem of course for any budding biblical fillmmaker. Upset the creator with your adaptation of your favourite bible story and you can well end up as a pillar of low sodium salt!