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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 January, 2004, 16:58 GMT
Weir hopes for fourth time lucky
Peter Weir
Weir's first film was gothic comedy The Cars That Ate Paris
Australian director Peter Weir was a Bafta winner and Oscar best director nominee for his Napoleonic War drama Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, which stars Russell Crowe.

Weir, 59, emerged as one of a wave of new directors in Australia in the 1970s. In the next three decades, thanks to films such as Witness, Dead Poets Society and The Truman Show, he has made his name as one of Hollywood's premier directors.

The 2004 Academy Awards marked the fourth time he had been nominated for best director - after being shortlisted for Witness, Dead Poets Society and The Truman Show - but he has never won.

After travelling to Europe on a film study grant in 1971, Weir started work in a local TV studio.

He made his first film in 1974, the gothic horror-comedy The Cars that Ate Paris, in which a small Outback town is menaced by a series of car accidents.

But it was his next film, 1977's Picnic at Hanging Rock, that made him an international sensation. The film was about a three schoolgirls and their teacher who disappear near the beautiful Hanging Rock, in Victoria, Australia, in 1900.

The film introduced a theme - the clash of cultures - that Weir would use again and again in his films.

In 1981, the director launched Mad Max actor Mel Gibson to stardom in his World War I film Gallipoli, a downbeat tale of enthusiastic Australian men taking part in a disastrous military campaign.

1989 highlight

The following year he made The Year of Living Dangerously, a thriller starring Gibson and Sigourney Weaver as a reporter and an embassy member who fall in love during revolution in a third world country.

In 1985 he cast Harrison Ford as a hard-bitten cop who visits a secluded Amish community to try and find the identity of a ruthless killer.

A year later, Ford starred in Weir's The Mosquito Coast, about an eccentric inventor who tried to build an ice factory in a rainforest.

After Witness's success, Weir became a genuine Hollywood sensation. His film Dead Poets Society, starring Robin Williams as an enthusiastic teacher in a repressed boys school, was one of the most talked-about films of 1989.

Russell Crowe in Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World
Russell Crowe has praised Weir's films

The following year saw another box-office success, Green Card, in which Gerard Depardieu and Andie MacDowell played a mismatched couple pretending to be married.

The 1990s saw Weir making fewer films, but in 1998 he again directed one of the year's must see films, The Truman Show. Jim Carrey starred as an innocent young man who realises his life is actually a TV show.

It has been five years since that film, and many in Hollywood feel that Weir is long overdue a best director prize. Critics have praised his nautical tale, with its epic battle scenes and macho bonding.

Russell Crowe was certainly one actor who thinks Weir should have been amongst the 2004 Oscar winners.

"I grew up with his films, and I've had my experiences in the cinema where Peter has enthralled me, excited me, brought a tear to my eye," Crowe told the BBC.


SEE ALSO:
Crowe battles for critics' award
02 Jan 04  |  Entertainment
In pictures: Master and Commander
17 Nov 03  |  Photo Gallery
Crowe's quest to get ship shape
29 Nov 03  |  Entertainment


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