The Last Wave

Peter Weir, Australia, 1977


A garage door opens on to a torrent of rain. The rain mutes the colours of the street beyond into various pastel shades. The rain falls on the townspeople, affecting how they carry themselves against the weather, creating confusion and disorder in the flow of city, provoking an anarchic ballet of umbrellas.

Peter Weir uses the rain as an aesthetic device to affect the shots taken from the interior of the car, as seen by the character – the movement from soft to hard edged focus and then back again by way of the windscreen wipers. This alternating movement between soft and hard focus allows the filmmaker to isolate and make visible only the colours of objects, removing the contours that define their shape. The news on the car radio serves to dramatize this biblical torrent, underlining its uniquely malevolent presence. The character’s return home, where his young daughter waits for him by the entry, plays with the contrast between never ceasing rain, moving the leaves in the tree and the warmth and tranquillity of the family home. As the film runs its course, the rain, which continues as part of the general ambiance of the film, is given a more supernatural, dreamlike quality, linked to Australian Aboriginal traditions.


general ambiance of film.