It’s been seven years since Baz Luhrmann made a mark on MySpace with Moulin Rouge — long enough that his race with Oliver Stone feels as ancient as Alexander — but according to Coming Soon he’s back in 2008.

The Luhrmann epic Australia, with Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, has been under way for a while. Now Fox, the studio that hates you and wants your small intestine to implode, has set a release date: November 14, 2008. The release date and audience hate are independent of one another, by the way.

The important question with respect to Australia isn’t ‘when?’ but ‘why?’. The world has moved so far on from interest in Nicole Kidman that I wonder what percentage of this film’s audience will even bother to wonder how much like Far and Away this might be. And what a weird trio of co-writers Luhrmann has: Ronald Harwood, to bring the gravitas; Stuart Beattie, to punch up the dialogue and allow characters to punch each other up; and Richard Flanagan, to add a novelist’s import. Who? Never mind.

Coming Soon pegs the plot thusly:
Set in northern Australia prior to World War II, the film centers on an
English aristocrat (Kidman) who inherits a ranch the size of Maryland.
When English cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins
forces with a rough-hewn cattle driver (Jackman) to drive 2,000 head of
cattle across hundreds of miles of the country’s most unforgiving land,
only to still face the bombing of Darwin, Australia, by the Japanese
forces that had attacked Pearl Harbor only months earlier.

The bombing of Darwin? Make that the prime marketing angle and you’ll sucker in the conservatives, at least.