great emu war movie

In the 1930s, Western Australia had a problem – an overabundance of emus (although if you ask me, there’s no such thing as too many emus). The solution: send in a bunch of soldiers with machine guns to cut down the emu population. That’s weird enough as it is, but the story gets even stranger/better, because while many birds were killed, the emu population continued to thrive. It was dubbed “The Emu War” by the media, and in the end, the emus won. Now, two people who you probably never expected to see working together – John Cleese and Rob Schneider – are teaming up to make a Great Emu War movie.

Earlier this year Rob Schneider revealed he and John Cleese were working on something called The Great Emu War. Now we have even more details after Cleese appeared on the BBC’s One Show. “We just finished the script,” Cleese said. “It really happened, they tried to kill them and they couldn’t even kill them. It’s a very funny idea, so that’s why I’m here.”

Schneider has been developing the project with Monty Franklin since at least 2018. Schneider is playing “an English sergeant major” character who is “yelling the whole time,” so you have that to look forward to. As Cleese said, the so-called Emu War really did happen in the 1930s, and in the end, it was the emus who won, proving that human beings are pretty worthless and deserve to be wiped off the face of the earth to let the emus thrive (that’s how I see it, at least).

Here’s more info on the true story from the wonderfully-named How We Lost the Emu War:

Following the long hot summer of 1932, wild emus in the Murchison district of Western Australia went on the rampage in search of food and water – much to the chagrin of local farmers who feared for their crops. In a bid to stop the advancing emus along the rabbit-proof fence farmers enlisted the help of the army. Armed with Lewis machine guns and 10,000 rounds, a party, led by Major Meredith of the Royal Australian Artillery, was sent to the Campion district where it was estimated 20,000 emus were causing damage. However, due to the abundance of food the emus were gathered in small groups, most of which were outnumbered by the 50 settlers who had turned out to meet Major Meredith and his men. A group of 40 emus was sighted and beaters were sent to herd them into firing range. At a distance of 1,000 metres the first burst of fire landed short, with the second killing about a dozen birds as they raced for the cover of trees.

In an attempt to improve its tally the army party resorted to ambush tactics. Later the same afternoon the guns were set up at a dam. Close to sundown, as 100 birds approached to within 100 metres, again the gunners opened fire. The birds scattered and dispersed, so much so that further shooting was pointless.

The following day a similar strategy was employed in a paddock where emus had caused widespread damage. This time a flock of more than 1,000 headed for water and the waiting guns.

Again the birds ran off, their escape aided by the jamming of one of the machine guns. Onlookers were surprised by the emus’ ability to sustain injury and keep running…Less than a week after the “Emu War” had begun the Defence Minister of the day, George Pearce, ordered a withdrawal.

This is unquestionably a fascinating story, I just don’t know how excited I can get about a movie version featuring Rob Schneider, who I’ve never found particularly funny. The Great Emu War is expected to arrive sometime next year.

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