89 years after the true events, The Great Emu War is being turned into a movie
Film and TV

89 years after the true events, The Great Emu War is being turned into a movie

One of the most ridiculous true stories in Australian history, the Great Emu War, is about to be told on the silver screen.

Comedian and actor John Cleese has signed on to star in The Great Emu War, a new film telling the story of perhaps the world’s funniest war that began 89 years ago today.

This amusing action/adventure film will also feature Aussie comedians Jim Jeffries and Monty Franklin. New Zealand actor and comedian Rhys Darby, who’s known for his energetic character work, is also attached to the film. American musician and animal rights activist, Moby, will compose a portion of the music for The Great Emu War.

Photo: David Trood/Getty Images

The film will be directed by American actor, Yaniv Raz and produced by Australians Robyn Kershaw (Bran Nue Dae) and Kylie Bracknell, paving the way in the global film industry, not only for Australians but also for women and indigenous people in Australian film and TV.

The producers are yet to cast the lead female roles for the movie that will be shot in the Campion district of Western Australia, on the lands of the Noongar people. The team plans to mainly employ Australian crew members.

“It is audacious and fitting that the first big Hollywood film on Noongar land is a comedy celebrating how Country itself can turn the tables on imperialism,” Bracknell, a Noongar woman, told the Hollywood Reporter.  “Amidst the calamity, a very special female character will emerge and do things we haven’t yet seen in any feature film.”

The Great Emu War of 1932 was a military operation to control the overpopulation of emus that were said to have been running amok in the Campion district of Western Australia.

An apparent 20,000 emus were destroying crops for some time when farmers petitioned for military aid from the Minister of Defence George Pearce. The troops were deployed soon after and the conflict began.

Image from The Great Emu War 1932

The war lasted for all of 38 days, and the best part? Australia lost. There really hasn’t been a war story that can be told with such levity, short of taking extreme liberties with satirical dramatisation as seen in films like Inglorious Bastard.

Though this story has been told to thousands of Australian children and was once even adapted into a short film by an American director Kyle Harrington, the idea to create this full feature-length film came from one of Monty Frankin’s stand up comedy routines.

 “I’m grateful that our wise emu overlords have seen fit to allow me the opportunity to blend satire with slapstick and tell a poignant story about humanity’s war against nature,” said director Raz to the Hollywood Reporter. “I couldn’t be more delighted to helm a picture that is simultaneously so entertaining, meaningful, and relevant.”

Film production is set to begin in Australia in May 2022.