YOUNG EINSTEIN

Michael Long

Statistics

Genre: Comedy/Adventure feature

Gauge: 35mm

Length: 92 minutes

Release date: December 1988 (Australia & USA), April 6 1990 (Finland & Sweden)

Production Budget: Approximately $4.5 million

Marketing Budget: Approximately $500,000 (Australian Theatrical only)

Gross Income: Approximately $14 million (Australia) and $11.536 million (USA)

Production Company: Warner Brothers

Distribution: Greater Union Film Distributors (Australasia) and Warner Brothers (World)

Sound Mix: Dolby

Colour: Colour

Country: Australia

Language: English

Rating: PG

Cast (in credits order)

Yahoo Serious Albert Einstein

Odile Le Clezio Marie Curie

John Howard (II) Preston Preston

Peewee Wilson Mr. Einstein

Su Cruickshank Mrs. Einstein

Lulu Pinkus The Blonde

Kaarin Fairfax The Brunette

Michael Lake (I) Manager

Jonathan Coleman Wolfgang Bavarian

Johnny McCall Rudy Bavarian/Tasmanian Devil

Michael Blaxland Desk Clerk

Ray Fogo Bright Clerk

Terry Pead Inventor Couple

Alice Pead Inventor Couple

Frank McDonald (III) Nihilist

Tony Harvey Bursar

Tim Elliot Lecturer

Ray Winslade Droving Student

Ian 'Danno' Rogerson Randy Student

Wendy De Waal Prudish Student

P.J. Voeten Chinese Student

Peter Zakrzewski (I) Kid

Sally Zakrzewski Kid

Zanzi Mann Kid

Conky Heygate Kid

Shannen De Villermont Kid

Mark Bell (II) Kid

Warren Coleman Lunatic Professor

Glenn Butcher Ernest Rutherford

Steve Abbott (II) Brian Asprin

Russell Cheek Nurse

Warwick Irwin Gate Guard

Keith Heygate Scientists Guard

Roger Ward (I) Cat Pie Cook

Michael Matou Asylum Guard

Ted Reid Asylum Guard

Martin Raphael Crazed Lunatic

Max Meldrum Mr. Curie

Rose Jackson (II) Mrs. Curie

Basil Clarke Charles Darwin

Adam Bowen Marconi

Esben Storm Wilbur Wright

Tim McKew Sigmund Freud

Philippa Baker Freud's Mother

Geoff Aldridge Lumiere Brothers

Hugh Wayland Lumiere Brothers

Ian James Tait Thomas Edison

Aku Kadogo African Lady

Margot Ross Emotional Mother

Madeleine Ross Baby Scientist

Nick Conroy Clarke Gable

Michael Shirley Admiral Shackleton

Ollie Hall Darwin's Bodyguard

Christian Manon Darwin's Bodyguard

John Even Hughes Drunk

Pepper Soudakoff Darwin's Beagle

Megan Shapcott Country Girl Fan

Inge Burke Country Girl Fan

Georgie Parker Country Girl Fan

David Ngoombujarra Aboriginal Dancer

Wick Wilson News Cameraman

David Roach Country Yokel

Colin Gibson (I) Country Yokel

Crew

Director: Yahoo Serious

Executive producers: Graham Burke, Ray Beattie

Producers: Graham Burke, Ray Beattie Yahoo Serious, David Roach, Warwick Ross

Writers: Yahoo Serious, David Roach

Production Manager: Antonia Barnard

Cinematographer: Jeff Darling

Editors: David Roach, Amanda Robson, Neil Thumpston, Peter Whitmore (I)

Original Music: Martin Armiger, William Motzing, Tommy Tycho

Stunts: Yahoo Serious

Interesting Facts

A Spanish Subtitled version of the film was also released.
During the Bath house scene in the Lunatic Asylum, Marie is upset at Albert as he is not a 'man of action'. She tells him, "If you won't do anything, then who will?" however, if you look at her lips, she clearly says, "…then I will".
While part of the film is set in Tasmania, almost all of it (including the Paris scenes, and Tasmanian scenes) were shot in New South Wales, in Newcastle, the Blue Mountains and other locations around New South Wales.
A few celebrities of today had small roles in the film, including Steve Abbott (otherwise known to Triple J radio listeners and to Good News Week Watchers as "The Sandman") played Brian Asprin and Georgie Parker, who stared in the Australian TV soap "A Country Practice" and today in "All Saints" played one of the country girl fans towards the end of the film. Glen Butcher, from the Australian television institution Full Frontal (formerly Fast Forward) also has an appearance, as Earnest Rutherford (another of the members at the mental institution).
Awards

AFI Award (Best Musical Score) 1986,
Birmingham Film and Television Festival 1989,
Tokyo International Film Festival 1989
Nominated for:
AFI Best Achievement in Sound (1986)
AFI Best Achievement in Cinematography (1986)
Best Original Screenplay (1986)
Reviews (a mix of positive and negative)

The rest of the reviews (references etc) are all found in the Bibliography section of this paper.

Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide (1998)

Nutty comedy from Down Under based on the premise that Albert Einstein not only developed the theory of relativity, but also invented rock 'n' roll! The silliness continues from there... though any movie with ``cat pies'' can't be all-bad. Aptly named Yahoo (born Greg Pead) wrote, produced, directed, and stars in this slapstick epic.

Roger Ebert (published 08/04/1989) — Chicago Sun Times

"Young Einstein" is a one-joke movie, and I didn't laugh much the first time. It seems to take place in an alternate universe, a place in time and space where an unsung genius named Albert Einstein was born on the obscure island of Tasmania and grew up in Australia instead of Europe. Of course this means that his major discoveries have to do with beer, rather than relativity, and his big breakthrough comes when he finds a way to apply the Law of Relativity to the problem of carbonation.
"Young Einstein" has won a great deal of attention in Australia, where Serious has become the biggest homegrown star since Paul Hogan, and the saga of how he got this movie made - as the co-producer and co-writer as well as star - is intriguing enough to make a movie of its own. Discovering the Law of Relativity is relatively easy compared with getting a feature film made when you're an unknown with no money.

Washington Post Review — By Desson Howe (August 4, 1989)

Moving Warner Bros.' hype aside for a moment (the team of bulldozers will be right along): "Young Einstein" is a comedic retelling of the Einstein story, in which -- deep in the cartoonish wilds of Tasmania -- apple farmer's son Einstein (Yahoo Serious, a k a Greg Pead; now the pseudonym makes sense), seeking a formula to carbonate his father's flat beer, splits the first atom. "Energy equals mass times the square of the speed of light," he says, and he embarks on an odyssey to patent his E=mc_ formula, which involves:

- Surviving the unscrupulous schemings of jealous patent-office manager Preston Preston (John Howard).

- Inventing the world's first surfboard, the electric guitar and rock 'n' roll.

- Falling in love with "Marie Curie" (Odile le Clezio).

Washington Post Review — By Rita Kempley (August 4, 1989)

Serious, who starred, wrote, directed, produced, edited, picked the music and did his own stunts, is a committed auteur. Still, his comedy is juvenile and his movie immature. There are moments, flashes of cracked potential, as when Albert comes upon a backwoods railway station and expectantly sits down beside a skeleton still holding a train schedule in its bony hand. These are as rare, however, as the movie is frisky. It's got energy, it's got velocity, but has it got mass appeal? Audiences may be tempted to split.

The Sci-Fi Movie Page (no date given)

What if Albert Einstein had been born in Australia? Well, I'll refrain from mentioning any sheep jokes in answering this question, but this movie could have done with some Aussie/sheep jokes because anything would have been funnier than this movie!

From the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) — Review by 'Dave'

There is no scene in this movie that isn't beautiful art. If it was a relatively low-budget film, you couldn't tell it. It was made up for by traveling to gorgeous scenes. It has the look of an expensive film. Odile Le Clezio, a French actress, is a darling as Young Einstein's romantic interest. All of the actors and actresses were superb, top drawer, flawless. The talent of Yahoo Serious, who starred in and created this movie, is awesome. The scenes and acting are so good that this movie continually evokes the most wonderful memories between repeated viewings. I've seen it maybe 30 times, mainly because it's a must-see video I share with new friends. Although funny, this movie isn't "goofy." This is a witty script of wonderful, down-to-earth themes.

The music's great. The gags are first-rate, not only in being unexpected and very interesting, but in being wonderfully acted and beautifully photographed. I don't tire of seeing these gags time after time. Everyone I've shown this movie to loves it. It's an all-timer, one of a kind, a classy, colorful, imaginative gem. Yahoo Serious is awesomely gifted and, thankfully for us, independent in his creations. This is NOT a movie hacked out by bored corporate committee members filling in quotas of stupid juvenile formulas. This isn't a "spoof," either. It's a unique work of art produced by a young genius who uses for a story line the idea "what if" Einstein was born on an Australian farm. The real Albert Einstein would have given this imaginative work of art an enthusiastic standing ovation.

Presence Online and in Literature

"Young Einstein", being a relatively low-scale movie (in terms of budget) has a somewhat limited level of presence online, however, and possibly due to the production company (Warner Bros.) there does appear to be a relatively large amount of reviews and there is also the dedicated number of fan pages.

The 'Excite' and 'Yahoo' search engines proved most productive, however 'Webcrawler' did not provide much information at all on the film. One definitive source (as always) was the Internet Movie Database. This site provided links to all sorts of information, including reviews (professional and personal), some of the award information, some of the box office and release date information — in general, this is the best site for finding information on any film.

The literature, however, was not as easy to come by. Whereas the online information was there to be found, the literature has simply not been written. There is one exception that I found, and that was in a book called "Taking Care of Business — Marketing and Distribution", written by Jennifer Scott and edited by John Cruthers (published 1990). There is a specific case study and an entire chapter devoted to Young Einstein. "Chapter 19 — Case Study: Young Einstein" outlines the beginnings of the script, origins of the ideas, shooting and marketing of the film. The chapter also includes interviews with the filmmakers and other parties involved (producers' etc). This is a very informative archive, but unfortunately has been the only example I have found (there are of course mentions in a few other film texts, however, nothing that appears to be very substantial).

Collection of Information

The information that I have collected was done over a period of about 2 weeks, and as such as been fairly exhaustive. Almost all of the information that I have has come from the online resources that I located. I do feel that the lack of information in other mediums is unfortunate, but it seems to be unavoidable. Generally, the search engines I used (see above) were adequate in finding the information that I was after, though there was not a definitive site listing everything I was after (release dates, production costs, cast, crew, locations, etc — the closest was the IMDb).

Critical Review

"Young Einstein" is the story of what could have been, if Albert Einstein was born and bread in Tasmania on his parent's apple farm. An inventor from birth, Albert (Yahoo Serious) discovers the secret to splitting the beer atom to give it bubbles.

Overjoyed with his discovery, his parents send him off to the mainland (Australia) to patent his formula — E=MC2. Upon arriving in Sydney, Albert's formula is stolen by Preston Preston, a money hungry bureaucrat who works in the patent office, and finds love in Marie Curie (Odile Le Clezio), the Nobel Prize winning scientist who discovered Radium. Albert has to fight off a mental hospital along with many other challenges to stop Preston from making an atomic bomb that will destroy the world.

In many ways, this is the definitive Australian film — what better to base a film then the brewing of beer? But this film is far more than that. The opening half-hour of the film is shot superbly in locations across Australia, from the Blue Mountains to Ayres Rock. A superb soundtrack compiled mainly from Australian artists like Paul Kelly, Icehouse and Mental as Anything accompanies many of the scenes.

The original idea for the film came when Serious was on a holiday on the Amazon River in 1983. He saw someone wearing an Albert Einstein T-shirt and began to wonder what it would have been like if Einstein had been born in a different time or place. Serious began writing the screenplay shortly after that trip with one of his long time friends, David Roach. Unfortunately for him, there were no production houses or government agencies willing to put any money into it in the early stages, so Serious raised $20,000 of his own money (which included selling everything he owned and taking out a personal loan) and convincing the AFC to loan him a further $5,000 for the film. This soon developed into a $4.5 million feature that caught the attention of Hollywood conglomerate Warner Brothers Studios.

Much of the success of this film is due to the marketing strategies used by Warners, and the strong relationship between the filmmakers and the distribution company. The filmmakers had it clear in their mind what they wanted to get out of the film, and combined with the experience and expertise of Warner Bros. the film was able to be the success that it eventually was (even in the US).

Overall, this film works through a number of Hollywood conventions, however Serious never thought that the film they were making would turn into a stereotypical Hollywood feature. He was determined from the very beginning to make a film that would "cut new ground". And that is exactly what he did. However, whether this film carried over into any other market (outside of Australia, especially the United States) was another matter. Many of the reviews for the film, including prominent newspapers The Chicago Sun Time and the Washington Post, slanted the film, saying his "comedy is juvenile and movie immature" and it is a "one-joke movie". While these comments are clearly not reflected in the box office figures (some $11.56 million in the US, which, for an Australian film is a great bonus), it is clear that the Australian cinema of the 1980s could not all live up to the "Crocodile Dundee" image.

There were a mix of reviews throughout the release of the film and subsequently. Ranging from high acclaim to outright censure, the reviews seem to be somewhat location based. For example, many, but not all, of the reviews from the US are negative and do not give this film much of a chance. However, there are those that praise the film for being "a piece of high art" and others that simply commend Yahoo Serious for undergoing the film at all, due to the nature of the topic, and the humor that is involved.

"Releasing a film is like trying to move a gigantic concrete juggernaut. Once you've put enough energy into getting it to roll, it develops a momentum of its own. How far it rolls by itself depends on the press and word-of-mouth. If both are as good as we had with Einstein, the juggernaut becomes a formidable force — it just keeps rolling and rolling." These are the words of Warwick Ross, one of the producers of 'Young Einstein'. The press in general treated this film well. Whereas some films receive only negative press, or only positive, Young Einstein received a mix of the two, allowing the cinema going public to make up their own mind. I think it was this that accounts for much of the success of the film (though it is clear that the marketing and the distribution — the film opened in 1200 screens in the US alone — that can also be seen as the reason for the success).

Yahoo Serious, in making this film, was taking a huge gamble. Not only had he co-written the script, but he was initially funding, staring, producing and directing it as well. For an actor who had gone to art school with one of his producers and was embarking upon his first film, this was a major role. I cannot imagine trying to direct, produce and star (including doing your own stunts, as Yahoo did) in a feature film. Films of this sort (writer/director/star) are generally high budgeted Hollywood features made by seasoned professionals (not to say that Yahoo is not the consummate professional — far from it. His work on this film proves that) like Woody Allen.

Placing this film into Yahoo's career is rather simple. He made this film, and subsequently came out with "Reckless Kelly", a retelling of the Australian folk tale of Ned Kelly. After that film, nothing had been heard of Yahoo until a year or so back, and he has now completed work on "Mr. Accident", however, to my knowledge, the release date keeps being pushed back.

"Young Einstein" fits snuggly into the Australian cinema of the 1980s, relating strongly to the stereotypical characters seen in "Crocodile Dundee" (Faiman, 1986), "Gallipoli" (Weir, 1981), "The Man from Snowy River" (Miller, 1982 — if only for the setting) and even television shows like "Neighbours" and "The Flying Doctors". Some view this period as a flowering of entertainment, which allowed Australia access to the rest of the world (in terms of film anyway), while the skeptics see this period as the down fall of the Australian film — due to the strong stereotypes, both in characters (Croc. And Einstein are great examples of this) and of setting (Snowy River).

In placing this film further into a national cinema, such as Australia's (medium sized, English speaking) we must remember that by having a 'national cinema' of a medium size means that we (Australia) are in direct competition with the United States of the audience. Therefore, reviews of the film, no matter where they come from, prove to be quite substantial to the staying power of the film. We must also take into account the vast differences in the budgets of our films in comparison to the United States. It is not unusual for a US film to have a budget some 10 times larger then that of an Australian film (taking into account that most Australian films are made for about $3.3 million). "Young Einstein" did very well to place as highly as it did in the US with the small budget of $4.5 million. With large budgets come better production values and the ability to market and advertise films more adequately.

Bibliography

Review Sites

Movie review - Deseret News Review (1989)

http://www.desnews.com/movies/reviews/ip0u4613.htm

Young Einstein - A Review

http://www.smart1.net/amens/reviews/rvyein.html

Young Einstein - Internet Movie Database

http://us.imdb.com/Title?Young+Einstein+(1988)

Excite Movies - Young Einstein

http://movies.excite.com/movie/?movie_id=103394&zip=

From Einstein to Slapstick - the Australians know best

http://www-tech.mit.edu/V109/N30/young.30a.html

E! Online - Movie Facts - Young Einstein (1988)

http://eonline.com/Facts/Movies/0,60,19567,00.html

Roger Ebert Review (negative)

http://www.suntimes.com/ebert/ebert_reviews/1989/08/366249.html

Washington Post Review (1)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/youngeinsteinpghowe_a0b229.htm

Washington Post Review (2)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/youngeinsteinpgkempley_a09fd0.htm

Review of You8ng Einstein (negative)

http://us.imdb.com/Reviews/53/5393

OOFnet - Cinema

http://massconfusion.com/cinema/film/1330

Films of the 1980s

http://www.inthe80s.com/movies/youngeinstein.shtml

Amazon.com - buy and review

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/6301589106/ticsto593/002-6090506-0368263

Fan Sites

Young Einstein -

http://members.tripod.com/~Nezmyth/yahoo/einstein.html

Strange site----corsets in film

http://www.staylace.com/films_y.htm

Academic

Yahoo Serious Temporary Archive

http://members.xoom.com/arandle1/yahoo/serious_text.htm

Miscellaneous

Soundtrack listing

http://www.folio.hu/info/017000/I177521.HTM

Filmography

Man From Snowy River, dir. George Miller (1982)

Gallipoli, dir. Peter Weir (1981)

Crocodile Dundee, dir. Peter Faiman (1986)

Reckless Kelly, dir. Yahoo Serious (1993)

Mr. Accident, dir. Yahoo Serious (2000)

Television

Neighbours (channel 10)

The Flying Doctors (channel 7)

A Country Practice (channel 7)

All Saints (channel 7)

Full Frontal (channel 10 and 7)

Fast Forward (channel 10 and 7)

Good News Week (channel 10, formerly ABC)

Written by Michael Long (990756I) for the Murdoch University Course "H231 - Australian Cinema"