After adding some cinematic glitz to Memphis, Tennessee for his new Elvis film, Baz Lurhmann is ready to return Down Under. The director will expand his epic drama Australia into a six-episode Hulu limited series titled Faraway Downs, per Deadline.
First released in 2008, Australia takes place in the eponymous country at the onset of World War II, and follows the societally forbidden romance between English aristocrat Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) and an unnamed, handsomely grizzled cattle drover (Hugh Jackman). The film is narrated by Nullah (Brandon Walters), a biracial Indigenous-Australian child who falls victim to the racist “Stolen Generations” policy once enforced by the Australian government.
Although Australia has all the stylistic markings of Luhrmann’s best work, the film fell notoriously flat with both critics and audiences. Faraway Downs will be comprised of footage from the original film, and include a new ending and updated soundtrack. The title of the project comes from the name of the cattle ranch Lady Sarah inherits in Australia, the responsibilities of which bring her Down Under in the first place.
“I originally set out to take the notion of the sweeping Gone With the Wind style epic and turn it on its head,” Luhrmann says of the new project, per Deadline. “A way of using romance and epic drama to shine a light on the roles of First Nations people and the painful scar in Australian history of the ‘Stolen Generations.’ While Australia the film has its own life, there was another telling of this story; one with different layers, nuances and even alternative plot twists that an episodic format has allowed us to explore. Drawn from the same material, Faraway Downs is a new variation on Australia for audiences to discover.”
The new series is the latest film to stem from Luhrmann’s longstanding relationship with Disney’s Peter Rice, a partnership that dates back to Luhrmann’s debut feature Strictly Ballroom.
“Baz is one of the world’s great auteur storytellers, so revisiting Faraway Downs and experiencing his incredible film Australia in this unique, new episodic format has been a revelatory and unique adventure,” Craig Erwich, the president of Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment, shares. “We look forward to taking viewers into the ranch and to experiencing all of the stories that are both held within and continue to unfold there.”
Faraway Downs will be available for streaming on Hulu this winter.