Review: "Quigley Down Under"

9 Jul

At first glance “Quigley Down Under” is just a fun western, a fun western with a little killing and a basic love story. When actually examined though, “Quigley Down Under” is a social commentary on race relations in 1870’s Australia between the aboriginal peoples and the none aboriginal ones. That, in my opinion, coupled with the western elements makes this a great film.

In the film Matthew Quigley (Tom Selleck), the world’s most exceptional long distance shooter, travels from to the Australian outback in order to keep dingos of the property of a British land owner named Elliot Marsten (Alan Rickman). After he arrives, and dines with Marsten though, he discovers that the seemingly sane Marsten wants Quigley to kill all the aboriginal people who try to come onto his land. When Quigley hears this he proceeds to defenestrate Marsten, subsequently leading to Marsten’s flunkies beating him unconscious. A woman named Cora, who we later find out is a little “off”, is also beaten unconscious for trying to defend Quigley and the he two are taken deep into the Outback where they are to be left to the elements. From that moment on Quigley takes it upon himself to “take care” of Marsten so that the innocent Aboriginal peoples in the area will no longer need to fear him.

In the film there are various scenes depicting Marsten’s men driving aboriginal people off of cliffs, as if they are all animals, and while these scenes are a bit gruesome, I feel they are completely necessary to the film. The strength of these scenes, as well as different peoples’ reaction to the acts depicted, strengthens the morally “off” aspect of the film. I say this because, what is being shown is how things really were in that time period, and though the film does not cover every aspect of the relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Australians, it does show you how they weren’t considered human beings beings on par with non-aboriginal Australians, being seen more objects to be kept on thrown away at one’s leisure.
Long story short, I believe that this is a great film, when looked at as more than just a western, and that anyone that wants to watch a mostly serious film about the Australian outback should check this out. A similar film, that was a bit more on the lighter side, is Australia starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman.

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