Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Peter Weir

I'm taking another break from politics.

The weird thing is I'm not really as joyful and relieved about that anymore.

I'm starting to actually like politics.

But still. I don't want this blog to be 100% politics. I need to expand my horizons. Right?

So, I'm going to look at another movie person.

Peter Weir.

I don't think I've seen many Weir movies. I never actually saw Dead Poet's Society. Yes, I know. That's embarrassing. I haven't seen any of his Australian stuff. I think the only thing I've seen is The Truman Show. And I really did love that movie.

Oh! Lord Wiki has a list of movies he's made. I HAVE seen other ones. I didn't realize he did Green Card and Fearless. I really liked both of those movies.

Anyway....Let's begin the bio stuff.  

Weir was born in Sydney on August 21, 1944.

Birthday website time!

He's a Leo like Harold Holt.

His numerology number is 11. Someone else I researched recently was 11. Maybe Penny Wong or Kerry Nettle..

I'll look that up again....

Okay. It was Nettle.

This website says this about 11's: You have a potential to be a source and inspiration for people. You possess an inordinate amount of energy and intuition. There is so much going on in your psyche that you are often misunderstood early. Which makes you shy and withdrawn. You have more potential than you know.

I wonder if this applies to Weir.

The way I interpret numerology is that our life path number is our goal for this lifetime. If you're a 2, you're supposed to be concentrating on learning how to cooperate. If you're a 3, you're supposed to be spending this lifetime making friends and being social. If you're a six, you're supposed to concentrate on family issues. I'm a 7. To me, that means I'm supposed to spend this lifetime learning.

Studying and Researching.

The Master numbers have especially lofty goals. But since the goals are harder, it's easier to fail. It's less likely you'll manage to accomplish what you were supposed to accomplish.

It does seem that Peter Weir has reached at least some of his potential. He's made movies and that's a good way to influence others.

For school, Weir went to The Scots College. It's located in Bellevue Hill. I got very lost around that area. But don't worry. I eventually found myself.

The Scots college is a boy's school. It has both day students and boarding students. They say their students have a culturally diverse range of backgrounds.   Cultural differences maybe?   But looking at the photographs, it doesn't seem like there's much ethnic diversity. Everyone looks Caucasian.

Their program for younger children uses the Reggio Emelia approach. That's the second Australian school I've read about that uses this. Is it popular in Australia? I wish it was popular in Texas.

Okay, here we go. They do have some international students. I guess that brings some diversity to the population.

In year 9, at the school, all students are required to spend two terms at the Glengarry campus. This is about 2.5 hours away from Sydney. Here, they do a bunch of outdoor type stuff: bushwalking, mountain biking, caving, running, etc. It sounds really great. Unfortunately there has been some controversy because two students died. I'm not sure if two deaths are enough to make a program deserve a reputation as being dangerous. I guess it would depend on whether the deaths were caused by negligence, and whether safety improvements were made after the deaths.

Weir attended the University of Sydney. He studied art and law. Was that a double major? A major and a minor?   Did he pick one major and then change it to another one?

At the University, Weir met another filmmaker Phillip Noyce. Lord Wiki says this is what sparked his interest in film. He also became involved with a filmmaking cooperating called UBU-Films. This group made experimental films during the 1960's, and they provided lighting for discos and other special events.

When Weir left the University, he went to work for a Sydney Television Station...ATN-7. This is Sydney's Seven Network. Weir worked as a production assistant on a show called The Mavis Bramston Show. It was a very popular comedy show during the 1960's. Weir used the station facilities to make two experimental films. I wonder if he was allowed to do this, or did he have to sneak in after hours?

Weir left ATN-7 and went to work for Film Australia (which was then known as Commonwealth Film Unit). It seems he made mostly documentaries for them. He also was one of three directors to make a short film for a movie called Three to Go. His segment was originally about an imagined civil war in Australia, but then was changed to a movie about alternative youth culture. This ABC website describes the plot, saying it's about a young man who meets an actor involved with a film regarding guerrilla warfare.

Weir made his first independent film in 1971. He'd be twenty-seven at the time. It was a black comedy called Homesdale. A shy lonely man goes to a hunting lodge that has weird guests. It seems to involve murders. 

It looks pretty gruesome.

His first full-length feature film was The Cars that Ate Paris.    It became a cult classic. I thought the movie was about France, but it's not. This Paris is a fictional town in Australia. The real town it was filmed in is Sofala New South Wales, which is not too far from Bathurst and Orange.

The film seems a bit like Children of the Corn--the protagonist getting stuck in a small town where things are not exactly right. This one's a comedy though. The plot also seems a bit like Homesdale. I definitely see commonalities. It's that idea of taking the wrong turn, and ending up in a demented dangerous place.

Soon after the car movie, Weir made a more serious film. Picnic at Hanging Rock. It's based on a novel by Joan Lyndsay. The movie was well respected; liked by the critics. Lord Wiki says it's one of the first Australian films to reach international audiences. It plays an important part in Australian film history. Oh! The plot sounds very good to me. It's about school girls who vanish after being attracted to some mysterious rock formation. Australia sure does have a lot of rock formation things. I think I'd really like this movie.

I'm going to watch the film trailer on YouTube. The movie reminds me a little bit of The Sweet Hereafter--the whole idea of a small town struggling with the aftermaths of a tragedy.

The Last Wave was Weir's next film. It starred an American actor--Richard Chamberlain. Chamberlain also starred in The Thorn Birds--another Australia related film. The Last Wave is about a white lawyer who becomes involved with Aborigines. The movie involves weird dreams and weird weather. I think I would love this movie as well. I think I'll watch this trailer too. This research is turning out to be more fun than I expected.

In 1981, Weir made Gallipoli. This helped propel Mel Gibson into becoming an international star. The film subject reflects the title--the infamous battle of the first world war. Lord Wiki says the themes of the movie are loss of innocence and coming of age. This seems fairly typical for a war film.

I'll have to watch a trailer for this film too. I can't tell if this is an official preview, or a user-made one. It's pretty damn long.

I think Mel Gibson's voice sounds so much like George Clooney's.

Weir worked with Gibson again in The Year of Living Dangerously. It's a political love story that takes place in Indonesia. It's also the movie that stars a white woman as an Asian man. The woman won an academy award for it.

Gallipoli and The Year of Living Dangerously were both released in the early 1980's. They made Weir quite an important Australian. He was awarded with a Member of the Order of Australia. This is a British-related award--a queen thing.

In 1985, Weir began to make American movies.

He made two movies starring Harrison Ford--Witness and The Mosquito Coast. I'm not sure if I've seen those movies. I think I've seen parts of them. I think Witness might have been one of the films discussed in a screenwriting book I had. I read a book recently by the guy who wrote the novel The Mosquito CoastThe Happy Aisles of Oceania. I didn't like it.

Dead Poet's Society came next. I do need to see that one day. I just read Lord Wiki's description of the end of the film. Just reading it is making me emotional. I'm going to watch the end on YouTube. This is my usual way of seeing movies these days--bits and pieces, and rarely in order.

Green Card came out in 1990. I remember I bought the soundtrack. I loved the song "Eyes on the Prize".

I think Fearless is less well known--at least here in America. I really liked it though.

After that movie, it seems Weir took a bit of a break. Five years. He then came back with The Truman Show. I really liked that one too.

In 2003, Weir made a film I don't remember hearing about. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. It may not reflect the movie's worth or popularity. I had a toddler at the time. It was hard to keep up with the film industry.

Within the past few years, Weir has been attached to films and then unattached for some reason or another. He has written a screenplay The Way Back, about an escape from a Siberian prison. That seems likely to be his next movie.  It's actually released and all that.

Now I'm going to leave Lord Wiki and go exploring elsewhere.

According to IMDb he has been nominated for a LOT of awards--way too many for me to list.

Weir's films often involve people who find themselves in a setting where they don't fit in.....fish out of water type thing.

IMDb says his films often involve someone fiddling with a radio. Interesting......

He's been married for forty-two years to the same woman...Wendy Stites. She has been a production designer in some of his films. That's a pretty impressive marriage length for someone in the entertainment industry. I wonder if they're still happy together.

This website seems to have a great collection of stuff. I'm saying seems because every time I get excited about a website I find, it ends up disappointing me. But maybe this one will be different.

In this interview, Weir gives an example of how a movie star can be difficult. Jack Nicholson was supposed to star in The Mosquito Coast. He backed out though because being in Belize would mean he'd miss a Laker's Game.

Why do some celebrities become so weird like that? Would I be like that if I became famous--demanding and rigid?

Here's a paper written by Romy Sutherland, a film school student. Reading it will probably make me feel like I'm back at film school. I'm not sure I look forward to that feeling. But I'll try to read it.

Sutherland talks about how Weir's films have helped actors expand their horizons, reach away from being typecast. Other websites mentioned this as well, but I ignored them.

She talks a bit about his childhood. The neighborhood he grew up in was the very affluent suburb of Vaucluse. I think this was also part of the area I got lost in.

After graduating from University, Weir took a sea voyage. It's here that he met his wife.

Oops. I got that wrong. In this interview, it says he didn't graduate from the university. He was a drop out. Shame on you, Weir. You know you have to have a college degree to succeed in life. What were you thinking? Not only is Weir a drop out, but he also didn't do so well when he was in school. Bad grades and dropping out of school...a recipe for failure. Such a youngster will never amount to anything.

The interview has some interesting stuff about Picnic at Hanging Rock. He had conversations with the author (Joan Lindsay) that seem quite mysterious. He was told not to ask if the story was based on truth, but he did so anyway. She was not happy with the question and asked him to not ask it again. Weir talks about missing people-how it causes us to be so unsettled. I think that's one of the worst things to happen to someone. What do you do? How do you fully grieve for someone when you know there's that small chance they could still be alive? How do you go on with your life, knowing they might be alive out there suffering somewhere, waiting to be found? I would never wish that type of situation on anyone.

This spirituality website has a review of The Last Wave. It talks about how in one part of the film, the protagonist criticizes his minister step-father for explaining all the weird happenings away. The review says, During the latter part of this decade, we have seen swarms of seekers give up their quest for truth and turn instead to the satisfaction of resting in certainties.

I think what's really sad is that in certain religions, we read from old texts that talk about miracles and the supernatural. We're supposed to believe in this.  Yet when we have our own personal stories they're usually discounted. Science may be the enemy of religion. But I believe it's religion and psychiatry that are the enemies of spirituality.

I'm going to look at Google News now--see if anything exciting and current is developing in the life of Peter Weir.

This article gives more information about the upcoming Weir movie, The Way Back. It's probable stars are going to be Colin Farrell and Ed Harris. Weir previously worked with Harris in The Truman Show.

Well, I better stop now. I'll end by saying that I think Peter Weir actually does live up to his numerology number. He has definitely done some very important things.

I need to see more of his movies.


  1. Oh you must see "Picnic at Hanging Rock"! It is one of the most incredibly beautiful films that I have ever seen.

    It is spooky though.... through artful mix of music and cinematography. The book was so spooky to me that, as a child, I couldn't go to sleep if it was on my bookshelf!!

    Gallipoli was also a truly groundbreaking Aussie film. It was one of the first to not glorify war.

    Both well worth looking at if you can find them over there.

    I think Peter Weir is a true artist. He was interviewed (by Andrew Denton?) and talked about the demise of the Aussie film industry and why he "had to" go to LA and make American films in order to get money to come back home and make Aussie ones.

  2. Fe,

    I just thought of something. You know what Picnic at Hanging Rock reminds me of? Watcher in the Woods. Did you guys get that movie in Australia. It was this really creepy Disney movie.

    I definitely want to see the movie...or read the book. Maybe both.

    I think even American filmmakers do what Weir did--do something for the big studios so they have enough money to do that stuff they want to do.

    I hope Boo is feeling better. Have a Merry Christmas!!!

  3. I would think you would love Witness....it has stood the test of time and the setting is beautiful as are the stars who are in the prime of their lives. I have it on DVD and video

  4. Magikquilter,

    I bet I would like it! It's weird that I can't remember seeing it or not. I guess it's because if you read screenplay stuff, it kind of feels like you've seen it.

    I hope you had a nice Christmas!

  5. yes you do! now that you mention all his films which I have probably all seen at one stage or another, I can't help but remember what a great film director!!!

    I LOVE the sweet hereafter and picnic and hanging rock...I also loved dead poets and witness.

    an aside...bit of a coincidence... shares the same b'day as my ex and the same numerology as me!

    p.s i think you are more of a scorpio than a sag and also a lot of libra...

  6. mscherrylane,

    He didn't The Sweet Hereafter. At least, I don't think so. I was just mentioning it because the plot of Picnic at Hanging Rock reminded me of it.

    Or did you already know that???

    I think you're right about the Scorpio thing. I was reading about Sagittarius yesterday, and it sounded so much NOT like me. Plus, Scorpio is much easier for me to spell.