Known for making moody, complex dramas that often focus on the emotional struggles of men caught up in social change and/or upheaval, Australian director Peter Weir is regarded as one of the most solid directors in both his native country and in Hollywood. His many accomplishments include making vehicles that promoted such stars as Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Robin Williams, and Jim Carrey into the realm of "serious" acting, something that further established Weir as one of the foremost interpreters of the inner lives of men.
The son of a real estate agent, Weir was born in Sydney on August 21, 1944. After giving his father's business a try, he spent time traveling around Europe. Upon his return to Australia, Weir secured a job with the Commonwealth Film Unit, where he learned his craft on the sets of documentaries and educational films. He made his directorial debut in 1971 with Three to Go, an effort that went largely unnoticed by audiences and critics alike. His next feature, The Cars That Ate Paris (1974), was a horror comedy with decidedly black overtones and fared considerably better than his previous effort. Even more successful was Weir's adaptation of Picnic at Hanging Rock the following year. A haunting, surreal tale of schoolgirls gone missing in the outback, it received critical acclaim and became something of a cult classic. The same could be said of The Last Wave (1977), a similarly dreamlike murder mystery set in Sydney.