Watch an iconic Aussie film this Australia Day

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Picture: Supplied
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Picture: Supplied

Australia's film history goes back to the earliest days of cinema - The History of the Kelly Gang (1906) was the world's first feature film. Here are some of the many Australian movies worth a look.

THE 1970s

Walkabout (1971): This adaptation of James Vance Marshall's novel is a haunting story of a white schoolgirl (Jenny Agutter) and her younger brother (Lucien John), abandoned in the Australian outback, who are helped to survive by an Aboriginal teenager (David Gulpilil).

Wake in Fright (1971): This US/Australian co-production, directed by Ted Kotcheff and adapted from Kenneth Cook's novel, follows the experiences of a young schoolteacher (Gary Bond) who gets caught up in violence and debauchery while stuck in an outback town.

The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972): Director Bruce Beresford and Barry Humphries collaborated on the script for this comedy. It's based on Humphries' Ocker comic-book character (played by Barry Crocker), who travels to Britain with his aunt Edna (Humphries).

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975): Joan Lindsay's 1967 novel about some schoolgirls and a teacher disappearing in the bush on Valentine's Day in 1900 was long believed to be based on a true story. Director Peter Weir's film maintains an atmosphere of mystery and unease.

Storm Boy (1976): This poignant adaptation of Colin Thiele's 1966 novel won the AFI for best film. A lonely boy (Greg Rowe), living on the coast of South Australia with his reclusive father (Peter Cummins), becomes involved in caring for three orphaned pelicans. Remade in 2019.

The Devil's Playground (1976): Writer-director Fred Schepisi based this sensitive film on his own experiences as a boy in a Catholic juniorate.

Don's Party (1977): David Williamson adapted his dark stage comedy about a Melbourne teacher who hosts an election-eve party in 1969 that descends into alcohol-soaked nastiness. Directed by Bruce Beresford.

Patrick (1978): Richard Franklin (Psycho II) directed this Ozploitation horror movie about a comatose young man with destructive psychic powers.

The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978): Fred Schepisi adapted and directed Tom Keneally's novel about Jimmie Governor, an exploited Aboriginal man who went on a murderous rampage.

 Anne-Louise Lambert as Miranda in Picnic at Hanging Rock. Picture: Ronin Films

Anne-Louise Lambert as Miranda in Picnic at Hanging Rock. Picture: Ronin Films

Mad Max (1979): This post-apocalyptic action movie launched George Miller's directorial career and gave a big boost to Mel Gibson who starred in the title role. Followed by two sequels and a reboot.

My Brilliant Career (1979): Gillian Armstrong directed this screen version of the 1901 novel by Miles Franklin, about a young woman (Judy Davis) who wants to become a writer but is tempted by romance. Anna Senior's costumes were nominated for an Oscar.

The 1980s

Breaker Morant(1980): Bruce Beresford co-wrote and directed this historical drama about the court-martial of controversial Harry "Breaker" Morant (Edward Woodward) and two other soldiers for murdering prisoners and a missionary during the Boer War.

Fatty Finn (1980): Maurice Murphy directed this colourful family film based on Syd Nicholls' comic strip. During the Depression, Hubert "Fatty" Finn (Ben Oxenbould) is raising money to buy a crystal set.

Gallipoli (1981): David Williamson and Peter Weir collaborated on this tragic drama about two runners, played by Mel Gibson and Mark Lee, who enlist during World War I.

Puberty Blues (1981): Two teenage Sydney girls join a surfie gang in this adaptation of the novel by Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette.

The Man from Snowy River (1982): Bruce Smeaton's score and beautiful cinematography are among the attractions of this film based on Banjo Paterson's poem. Tom Burlinson plays the title role and Sigrid Thornton plays the daughter of the wealthy Harrison (Kirk Douglas).

Turkey Shoot (1982): Notorious Ozploitation shocker about a future dystopian society where convicts are hunted for fun.

The Pirate Movie (1983): Fans of bad movies are the best audience for this loose adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance with lots of new pop songs. Stars Christopher Atkins and Kristy McNichol.

The Return of Captain Invincible (1983): A curio, this is a musical comedy superhero movie in which the title hero (Alan Arkin) comes out of retirement to battle his old rival Mr Midnight (Christopher Lee).

Bliss (1985): Darkly comic, slow-paced adult story written by director Ray Lawrence and Peter Carey (based on the latter's novel) about Harry Joy (Barry Otto), a man who dies and is revived into a nightmarish world.

Crocodile Dundee (1986): This fish-out-of-water comedy starring Australian TV comedian Paul Hogan as a bushman who goes to New York City was a big international hit. It's a little dated but still has its moments.

Malcolm (1986): Nadia Tass directed her husband David Parker's whimsical comedy script about a shy inventor (Colin Friels) who becomes a bank robber.

The Year My Voice Broke (1987): In 1962 in an Australian country town, gawky teenager Danny (Noah Taylor) and rebel Trevor (Ben Mendelsohn) vie for the affections of Freya (Loene Carmen). Writer-director John Duigan followed this with the 1991 sequel Flirting.

The 1990s

Proof (1991): Writer-director Jocelyn Moorhouse's striking drama focuses on the triangle of blind, untrusting Martin (Hugo Weaving), his possessive housekeeper Celia (Genevieve Picot) and restaurant worker Andy (Russell Crowe), who befriends Martin.

Romper Stomper (1992): Russell Crowe had an early lead role as Hando, leader of a group of Melbourne skinheads who attack the Vietnamese community in writer-director Geoffrey Wright's violent drama.

Strictly Ballroom (1992): Despite stiff acting from Paul Mercurio, this comedy about the competitive world of ballroom dancing is charming and lots of fun, before director Baz Luhrmann's excesses took hold.

The Piano (1993): Jane Campion wrote and directed this brooding historical drama about a mute woman (Holly Hunter) sent to New Zealand with her daughter (Anna Paquin) for an arranged marriage but who falls in love with another man (Harvey Keitel).

Muriel's Wedding (1994): Writer-director PJ Hogan balances comedy and drama well in this story of a lonely, ABBA-loving young woman (Toni Colette) who longs to get married.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994): Two drag queens and a transsexual (Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce and Terence Stamp) embark on a road trip in this tart-tongued Stephen Elliott comedy that won an Oscar for its costumes.

Babe (1995): Charming family film about a pig with sheep-herding abilities. Adapted from Dick King-Smith's book by George Miller and Chris Noonan (the latter also directed). Followed by a sequel.

Shine (1996): Geoffrey Rush won the best actor Oscar for his impressive performance as mentally ill pianist David Helfgott who finds love and hope when he meets an astrologer (Lynn Redgrave). Directed by Scott Hicks.

The Castle (1997): This comedy about a Melbourne family's battle to save their home was a big hit and produced lines that entered the vernacular (like "straight to the pool room").

The Interview (1998): Director and co-writer Craig Monahan's suspenseful film centres on a battle of wits between a suspect (Hugo Weaving) and a police detective (Tony Martin).

Two Hands (1999): In Gregor Jordan's comedy crime film, Jimmy (Heath Ledger) loses $10,000 belonging to gangster Pando (Bryan Brown) and must find a way to repay it.

The 2000s

Lantana (2001): Ray Lawrence's second film is an an involving multi-character drama involving adultery, violence and death, adapted by Andrew Bovell from his play Speaking in Tongues.

 Kate Winslet in The Dressmaker. Picture: Supplied

Kate Winslet in The Dressmaker. Picture: Supplied

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002): In 1931, three Aboriginal girls escape from a training school and undertake a long journey to return home, pursued by police. Based on a true story.

Wolf Creek (2005): John Jarratt plays outback psychopath Mick Taylor in Greg McLean's violent horror movie.

Jindabyne (2006): Ray Lawrence's third film, based on a Raymond Carver short story, begins with men on a fishing trip who discover and do not report a dead body.

Happy Feet (2006): George Miller's film about a penguin who can't sing but can dance was the first Australian movie to win an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film.

Australia (2008): This lavish, star-studded melodrama was liked by some but, like his earlier Moulin Rouge!, betrayed director Baz Luhrmann's weaknesses - style over substance and frenetic camp.

Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman in Australia. Picture: Supplied.

Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman in Australia. Picture: Supplied.

Samson and Delilah (2009): In Warwick Thornton's acclaimed drama, two Aboriginal teenagers (Rowan McNamara and Marissa Gibson) leave their outback village and head to Alice Springs.

Animal Kingdom (2010): David Michod's impressive debut feature about a crime family gave veteran Australian actress Jacki Weaver, who played the matriarch, a Hollywood career.

Red Dog (2011): Koko the kelpie plays the title character in this appealing outback film.

The Dressmaker (2015): Co-writer-director Jocelyn Moorhouse's darkly comic film stars Kate Winslet as a woman who returns to her home town bent on revenge. Based on Rosalie Ham's novel.

Rowan McNamara in Samson and Delilah. Picture: Supplied

Rowan McNamara in Samson and Delilah. Picture: Supplied

This story Aussie movies for Australia Day first appeared on The Canberra Times.