Quick Thoughts: Crocodile Dundee (1986)
One of the most iconic Australian films, one made by Peter Faiman that sees a reporter travel into the Australian outback to investigate the life of a small town legend, Mich Crocodile Dundee.
Crocodile Dundee is both an excellent twist on the conventional romance and the fish out of water adventure film. With some great direction, beautiful use of the landscape in the first half and brilliant performances from the two leads, this is a fun movie done incredibly well. The only downfalls of this movie come with a few tonal inconsistencies, bad fight sequences and a pretty transparent plot. Truth be told, however, none of this really matters, nor does it hugely impact the film’s quality; it’s one that can be watched time and time again just for the joy of it.
Based on the life of Rod Ansell, the ‘real’ Crocodile Dundee, this narrative takes advantage of his mythos whilst painting a few broad strokes as to create a bit of an ‘ocker’. Starting with the story of Rod Ansell, like Mick Dundee, Ansell did get in a boat accident (one that maybe didn’t involve a crocodile – though, it was later revealed by people close to Ansell that he was poaching them) that left him stranded in the outback for weeks – 52 days. Travelling back to his home town over a distance of 100+ miles with his dogs, Ansell hunted buffalo to stay alive (eating their meat and drinking their blood when necessary) and even shot a 16 ft crocodile whose head he kept. However, this was not a remarkable feat to Ansell and he, by and large, kept it to himself as a mere mistake or failure overcome. This was until the local newspapers heard the story, garnering Ansell a lot of media attention and fame that eventually lead to Paul Hogan writing this script. The major deviations between the script and the real life of Ansell are then left to be, mainly, the romance with Linda Kozlowski’s, Sue Charlton.
Coming to the critique that Crocodile Dundee received, whilst it was the second highest grossing film of 1986 in America (beaten only by Top Gun), some Australians didn’t much like the depiction of what could have been perceived as an archetypal Australian as an ocker – a rough, rowdy, uncultivated Aussie. However, what overshadowed this critique for Ansell was the fact that he was never able to profit from the film – nor the two that proceeded it. He attempted to take Hogan to court, but was unsuccessful. It’s from this point on that Ansell lead a difficult life that concluded with possible psychological issues and an alcohol-involved altercation with police that ended in a shootout and his death.
Despite this movie then being a dark spot in Ansell’s life, it serves as a bright piece of entertainment for many; one that is, in my view, a testament to the positive meeting of cultures and people of all kinds. Without bridging into sentimentalism, Crocodile Dundee is then a comedic exploration of small town sensibilities providing perspective and order to big city chaos. So, to end, what are your thoughts on Crocodile Dundee?
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