Last night (on the eve of Fathers’ Day, which coincidentally – has been a washout – with pouring rain), I finished watching a movie (with my son) called “the Last Wave” – directed by Peter Weir – featuring Richard Chamberlain, David Gulpilil, and Nandjiwarra Amagula (an actual Tribal leader who was brought in to act, but he also had a say in certain scenes and dialog in the film).
It’s reviewed with actual interview quotes from the director himself, here (on FlickeringMyth.com, author Trevor Hogg). There’s also a more recent “The Last Wave Rewatched – Mysticism, Prophesy, and the End of Times” blog entry by The Guardian’s Luke Buckmaster (2014). And I’m sure some good things were written “back in the day,” when the film came out – in 1977 overseas, and 1979 in the U.S. – I saw it myself, in the ’80’s (more than 30 years ago).
Most of what you’ll find on the web about this film – understandably – will include a synopsis of the film’s plot. So I won’t dwell on that. Plus, I hope you’ll see it yourself – no spoiler alert – but I will touch on some details of the narrative.
What I’m “doing” here, is a different exploration (it’s not a movie review). The particulars of the deluvian story are less significant to me than the underlying reality of “the dreamtime” – a conception of the Australian aborigines – which is common to all “original” cultures: that the “realities” of our waking, conscious experience are impacted by, and occur in the context of a vast, shadowy, watery, surreal, indeed metaphysical reality (that is – if you can believe it – “more real” than “reality”).
During an angry outburst at his pastor stepfather, David Burton (Chamberlain’s character) accuses the pastor of explaining away the unexplainable, dismissing this enormously significant phenomenon or context (as the popular versions, or most visible proponents of many mainstream religions tend to)…sweeping The Great Mysteries under the carpet…dumbing down The Great Truths into more easily consumed tidbits (for the masses).
Playing to the most (or least) common denominator is the way of even the most ancient of civilizations – because we have a society to maintain (after all) – but the outlyers, the visionaries, often the artists, mystics of a community, tend to carry the burden of esoteric knowledge…as does Burton (increasingly)…over the course of this movie.
There is talk of how “Westerners” (ie. white Europeans on whichever continent) have lost touch with their dreams, and are limited to a more rigid, tangible perception of reality – as evidenced by the opening arguments of the Prosecution – and represented as well by the lawyer who’s spent more time working with aboriginal peoples (than Burton).
Apparently, the area of study “Metaphysics” once included efforts to understand patterns and meaning – not only in the Spiritual world, but also in the physical world – till it was increasingly banished to the fringe…once “proper” Science (with it’s exclusive focus on the results of reproducible experimentation) came of age, a mere few hundred years ago.
Our history spans far longer – with our own human lineage dating back 3-5 million years – and the first apes (leading to “us”) leaving the forest about 10 million years before that.
Taking a 25 year (low-end) average life expectancy, or generational period, that’s 4,000 generations we’ve been through – just as we are now – leading up to the present…with a handful of generations going back to Slavery…and even less since the advent of electricity, lighting, universal plumbing, cars (never mind computers)!
This modern world (and mentality) – which we consider the benchmark of “what is” – is really a thin veneer on a much deeper reality of the entire human (and pre-human) experience. Imagine all the dreams of every being, over the course of all time! Older civilizations (including small bands of isolated peoples) were/are in awe of this history, and appreciated the miracle of their having been brought forth – through the ages – by “the ancestors.”
A continuity of Natural Law – synthesized into Tribal Law – ruled long before there were secular courts…and it was meant to be respected and not broken…which in the case of the guy who dies early on in the movie, results in the meting out the maximum penalty of punishment. Interestingly, this is forgivable – even in Australian Law – if it can be demonstrated that the defendants are Tribal (and not merely “city” people). There is (oddly) a respect for at least one lingering aspect of the “first people’s” custom.
At one point, the more seasoned lawyer – in aboriginal matters – chides Burton for his patronizing, high brow (he was actually a tax and corporate lawyer up until then) idealization of the situation, scoffing at the idea that any Tribal people had indeed survived in the heart of Sydney (which of course, it had). Even the most profound understanding can exist in the least likely milieu.
This unlikely candidate to defend the accused murderers (Burton), is also enmeshed in their Dreamtime mythology – an actual “Mulkurul” incarnate – who in the end, finds a death/life mask of himself among the relics of an ancient, lighter complected race that came from the East (the Maya?) and were somehow involved in the foretelling, or even the bringing on of cyclical, cataclysmic tsunamis (great floods).
It’s a bit of a clunky jumble of cultures – but hey – isn’t that what our “melting pot” is all about? And it’s certainly a romp through the ages – where past, future, and present meld seamlessly – but what better blend could a New Age hipster hope for?
Now I don’t want to fall into romanticizing original cultures – as wonderful as they are – there are downsides all around (and I don’t pretend to believe that living 20,000 years ago was a walk in the park).
Likewise – though I see the paramount importance of recognizing a Natural Law whose violation is resulting in our own progressively harsh Judgement today, through climate change – I take issue with people projecting their own idiosyncratic, subjective comprehension of The Law with their own fabricated law (and imagining that it’s the ONLY law).
Herein lies the Trojan Horse of inter-religious animosity, and the subjugation of the individual to unquestioning adherence to some (often selective perspective on) whatever they’ve embraced as “The Law.”
We are all entitled to our own experience of The Golden Rule – both fortunately and unfortunately (because people often choose a self-serving interpretation of it) – and as serious as we take it (thinking of it as universally applicable), we still must recognize that our fellow co-habitants of the planet may have equal or opposite views (which they feel as self-righteous about).
Time and Nature will wash us all away, but that doesn’t make our existence – or the beliefs we hold – insignificant. As the Aboriginal (Native American…whichever longer standing culture you want to substitute into this sentence) – their ways and knowledge continue to have worth – so too does the mighty thread of Western “Civilization.”
It’s important to remember that before the Romans, and later, the Roman Catholic Church (note the continuity there) took over Europe, there were myriad languages and Pagan cultures thriving independently (hello: Stonehenge!).
As the movie shows, it’s false to consider even a straight laced English lawyer to be immune from having a tribal clan in his past (or present!). The Aboriginals know and accept this. Reality – particularly the Dreamtime – supersedes the superficial, and weaves together disparate elements into an impossibly rich and magnificent fabric of “true and complete” Reality…too complex for most people to grasp…and too wild for even the few to harness, completely.
I’d like to think Shamans, Healers, even Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers, and Garbage Men (indeed Mothers, Fathers, and Children of all stripes) – we all have the capacity to comprehend (or at least access) – the Great Mysteries…and each of us – in our own ways – have adapted to and “tamed” them to some degree, to serve our own purposes (and ideally, the betterment of others).
In closing – I’d like to thank the community that made “The Last Wave” possible – and gratefully pass it along, like Life itself, to the next generation…to love and to fear…to struggle with, and to try to make sense of (in whichever, small way).
About the Author: Kyle Russell has been working with Crystals for 30 years, and considering Matters of Spirit for far longer (including other lifetimes). He mostly write about Crystals from the perspective of his modality Crystal Concentrics, which he teaches and uses through Meditations, Classes, Writing, Social Media, and via Individual Sessions. Russell also buys and sells Gems & Minerals through his http://www.PowerStoneCrystals.com site and at metaphysical Expos. You can reach him easily at Kyle@CrystalConcentrics.com.