Baz Luhrmann, much like Taylor Swift, is revisiting his past work to debut a brand-new version.
The Elvis director, 61, expanded on the universe of his 2008 film Australia with the new Faraway Downs, a film told across six chapters.
The process, to him, felt not far off from how Swift, 33, has been re-recording her past albums for the revamped Taylor’s Versions.
“I think Faraway Downs is like a composer doing a variation on a tune he wrote before. But it’s a different tune,” Luhrmann tells PEOPLE. “I wouldn’t say, it’s not like with Taylor, Taylor’s Version. Well, it might be— don’t tell Taylor. But, I think that I would say it’s ‘Baz’s Version.’ ”
Luhrmann adds that Faraway Downs is “the banquet version of the meal that is Australia. So one is a two-hour-and-40-minute sitting, and the other one is a banquet that you eat in different courses with breaks at your rhythm but is nourishing in a different way, I hope.”
He notes that he originally “shot 2-and-a-half million feet” of footage for Australia, which he called a “record for footage,” and decided to delve into it all when the pandemic shuttered filming on Elvis.
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He explains, “I was doing Elvis and quite famously, Tom Hanks got COVID and we were shut down, and in that period it looked like the film could not possibly come back. And so I thought, ‘Well… what will I do?’ ”
COVID lockdowns led Luhrmann to a more grand idea for Australia.
“This idea of taking an old form like a melodrama, like Gone with the Wind, and turning it upside down and telling it from a First Nation’s indigenous child’s point of view, I realized I could lean into that more,” he says.
Luhrmann says he “just thought, ‘Wow, episodic storytelling, this really suits episodic storytelling,’ ” before adding, “There’s literally a tragedy at the end of every beat.”
“I just rang my friend Peter Rice at Hulu and said, ‘Hey, what if you just fund me and I’ll relook at this and I can make an episodic version?’ ”
One thing the director remains aware of is his critics, particularly those who spoke less-than-favorably about Australia upon its U.S. release, which he describes as having been handled “in such a fraught way.”
“My life is full of critics, and I think the journey’s full of critics, and I have no problem with that,” he says, adding, “They’re just part of you. If you work a bit outside the box, you’re going to have critics, right?”
Faraway Downs is on Hulu Nov. 26.