The Last Wave (1977)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Last Wave Photos

Movie Info

Peter Weir directed this illusory examination between "reality" and "dream-time" and a possible coming tidal wave that will destroy the world. Richard Chamberlain plays David Burton, a young Australian lawyer who is asked by Legal Aid to represent four Aboriginal youths who are accused of killing another Aborigine in a drunken brawl. Burton accepts the case, and he then proceeds to have a series of dreams in which one of the four defendants is trying to give him a sacred stone. As layers of reality are peeled away, Burton discovers that the killing was in retribution for the murder victim's theft of sacred stones. The stones resembled the one in Burton's recurring dream. Finally, Burton discovers that the murder weapon was neither a gun nor a knife, but a shaman's sacred bone -- the shaman pointed the bone at the victim and the victim died of a heart attack. As Burton unravels the case, he finds himself becoming more and more a part of the Aborigine's dream-time until realizing that he is a psychic member of an ancient Australian tribe that had disappeared long ago.
Art House & International , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Cowboy Pictures

Watch it now


Richard Chamberlain
as David Burton
Olivia Hamnett
as Annie Burton
David Gulpilil
as Chris Lee
Frederick Parslow
as Rev. Burton
Vivean Gray
as Dr. Whitburn
Walter Amagula
as Gerry Lee
Roy Bara
as Larry
Cedric Lalara
as Lindsey
Peter Carroll
as Michael Zeadler
Athol Compton
as Billy Corman
Michael Duffield
as Andrew Potter
Wallas Eaton
as Morgue Doctor
Jo England
as Babysitter
John Frawley
as Policeman
Tony Llewellyn-Jones.
as Guest at party
Jennifer de Greenlaw
as Zeadler's Secretary
Richard Henderson
as Prosecutor
Merv Lilley
as Publican
John Meagher
as Morgue Clerk
Malcolm Robertson
as Don Fishburn
Greg Rowe
as Carl
Katrina Sedgwick
as Sophie Burton
Ingrid Weir
as Grace Burton
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Last Wave

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (1)

Weir's touristy vision is strictly from the outside looking in.

November 27, 2001
Village Voice
Top Critic

Its creepiness is undeniable, and it seems far less dated than many late 1970s films.

Full Review… | February 13, 2008
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Startling and mesmerizing Australian film about aborigines, nature and dreamtime.

Full Review… | September 1, 2002
Spirituality and Practice

There's plenty of floods, thunderheads, cars submerged in water and heavy downpours to get yourself all wet on.

Full Review… | July 16, 2002
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

a unique film that bears the uneven, yet genuine, traces of a deeply felt work not entirely settled

December 16, 2001
Q Network Film Desk

Weir does a fine job of weaving real events with dream sequences, as well as capturing the aboriginal perspective.

Full Review… | November 30, 2001
TV Guide

Audience Reviews for The Last Wave

Peter Weir's, The Last Wave is filled with spiritual symbolism to demonstrate the tension between Australia's white man and the Aboriginal people. The film has a really chilly feeling, especially in the house. With a very eerie score and the feeling/reality of constantly being watched, much of the film can be unsettling with out a lot happening. The mystery actually has a lot of the same feel as Blue Velvet. It's hard for me to say to much that's deep, because honestly I didn't really like it. Many scenes felt way to over extended, mainly the end scene in the tribal sacred site. I did see some biblical symbolism, mainly the scene where it appears that it's raining frogs outside, reminded me of Moses. While the film might make the Aboriginal people appear as some voo-doo multi-prophet worshipers, the majority in reality are Christian or have no religious affiliation. I understand that the film is shown a select few who still believe in sacristy and aboriginal spirituality, but this isn't consistent with reality.

Daniel Dolgin
Daniel Dolgin

Super Reviewer

A haunting character study about a pragmatic man who slowly becomes a believer the hard way. Engulfed by visions that connect him with the mysteries of the aboriginals and an apocalyptic prophecy. Not as well known as 'Picnic at hanging rock' but certainly better.

Pierluigi Puccini
Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer


Eerie apocalyptic thriller based loosely on Aboriginal mythology and with a none too subtle commentary on man's treatment of the planet. Weir's best film besides Fearless (no not the Jet Li movie).

A.D. Villarreal
A.D. Villarreal

Super Reviewer

The Last Wave Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Last Wave on our Movie forum!

News & Features