"Set in New South Wales, Australia, author Murray Bails fairy tale-like story tells of a man, his daughter and the stranger Crowe who whisks her off her feet. The father plants hundreds of varieties of eucalyptus trees and then decrees that only a man who can name every one of them may have his daughters hand in marriage. Although a number of suitors appear, his daughter falls for a storytelling stranger who shares with her tales of faraway lands."(The Hollywood Reporter, July 20, 2004)
Cast: Nicole Kidman (Ellen), Jack Thompson (Holland), Hugo Weaving
Directed by: Jocelyn Moorhouse
Written by: Based on the book "Eucalyptus" by Murray Bail;
Screenplay by: Michelle Joyner (original script) and Jocelyn Moorhouse.
Produced by: Uberto Pasolini and Lynda House
Executive Producer: Russell Crowe
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Filming: Australia, originally starting February 7, 2005 - FILMING POSTPONED INDEFINITELY AS OF 2/10/05 See here.
Release date: ???
Why do we love this idea? Let us count the ways. As far back as 1999, we at Maximum Crowe were daydreaming of Russell starring in a film adaptation of the book. So were our readers: It topped our then-weekly poll as the film that readers would most like to see him star in (Longtime readers know, of course, that we stopped doing our polls a few years back). Back then, we at MRC even had a "dream" leading lady for him: Cate Blanchett. (OK, so it went to Nicole Kidman instead.)
Years later, Russell's career is much different than it was then. He's gone on to major Hollywood stardom and hasn't made a movie in Australia since 1997's Heaven's Burning. As his film's budgets have hit the stratosphere, our dreams of seeing him return to his cinematic roots -- the enigmatic and underrated Australian film industry -- had all but died until this.
As if things couldn't get any better, Jocelyn Moorhouse will direct. She's a major talent herself, having directed Russell and Hugo Weaving in 1991's "Proof," a quirky, funny, sometimes sad but never maudlin film that to this day remains a favorite of ours and includes one of Russell's greatest cinematic moments. (We've written about it before, but we won't give it away now to new fans. Go rent the film instead!)
And then there's Nicole "The Princess" Kidman (as her longtime pal has called her on occasion). Their dramatic coupling is a tabloid's dream. But for movie fans, it's a chance to watch these two Oscar winners together for the first time on screen. Plus, the presence of a second major Hollywood star guarantees this little Aussie film will get a worldwide audience -- beyond Down Under and the arthouses in America's top film markets.
"Eucalyptus," which in book form has won several awards, promises to be yet another big departure for Russell. The unexpectedness of it all -- Russell returning to his roots after such major success around the globe -- adds to the excitement. And it adds to our hopes for another cinematic gem.
Buy the book! Eucalyptus: A Novel
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Eucalyptus, since July 19, 2004