DIRECTOR: NICHOLAS ROEG
COUNTRY: UNITED KINGDOM 1971
CINEMATOGRAPHY: NICHOLAS ROEG
FROM THE NOVEL BY: JAMES VANCE MARSHALL
MUSIC: JOHN BARRY
CAST: Jenny Agutter, Lucien John, David Gumpilil
SUPER FEATURES: Excellent Story. Beautiful Photography.
There are films, and then there are visual experiences. Some of them aim for a visual effect to trap the viewer.
And others merely showcase a place, or people.
And then there are films that just knock your socks off, and you just have no idea how to react to them. Except
to cry, maybe to figure out how you can change things for the better, maybe to just try and find an inner feeling
to help us make peace with ourselves.
WALKABOUT, is Nicholas Roeg's second film (his first was PERFORMANCE -- co-directed by Donald Cammel), and it
shows that Nicholas' films will become a visual delight for any viewer. From his days as cinematographer for the
likes of Joseph Losey and John Schlesinger, it was clear that these directors were good, but it was even more
clear that there was a visual style that stood out.
Very simply, and taken from James Vance Marshall's fine novel of the same name, this is about a Walkabout, for
two teenagers. One is a western teenager (Jenny Aguter) and the other is an aborigene (David Gulpillil) who are
at a cross roads in their life. The young girl and her small brother are left at the gates of the australian
outback by their father who decided to commit suicide by burning himself up in the car. The two young ones, when
realizing that they are alone in the middle of nowhere set out towards a pre-destined direction, that appears to
Soon, they come across an aborigene, who is on his own journey to manhood, the walkabout, and who has to prove to
himself and his kin that he can survive out there. The aborigene, knowing that the two kids are in dire need of
food and comfort finds some food for them, and proceeds to work as a guide for them for quite sometime. His
instincts are unfailing, and his bilities are clear. The young girl is very modern and city like and is having a
hard time adjusting to their surroundings but is not doing too badly. The younger brother is fine, and already
And their adventure peaks when they find a place where they can go for a swim and enjoy the freshness and beauty
of nature. Unbeknownst to the girl is that the aborigene lifestyle is a matter of life and death and his very
balance is dependent on it. And soon, the time has come when the aborigene has completed his walkabout, and as
is customary in his ways, he offers himself to the young girl, who rejects him in fear.
The aborigene then,..... and the very next steps she takes, they find a road. The last shot we see is in a
kitchen and a woman is preparing breakfast, and we hear a voice ask if his breakfast is ready... she lifts her
face, and looks out the window, and in the far distance is the green jungle that she survived.
The sad part of it is the girl not understanding the aborigene, or what the whole thing meant. Worse yet, is the
theme that what she chose is really not half as nice, or good as what she left behind.
The film is beautifully done and in parts could be said to be remniscent of the better known film with Brooke
Shields. However, the similarity ends there, and the shooting style pretty much details a beauty of nature that
is not always seen, or found. The aborigene is a part of it, and we, the western humans, are no longer a direct
part of it.
Highly recommended film for people who enjoy subtle acting done by young people, who are basically being
themselves and are being followed by a camera. The true beauty is in the innocence of it all, even if it is
misunderstood. It certainly placed Nicholas Roeg as one of the few film makers that is capable of tackling very
special projects, that aren't merely symbolic or meaningfull or just full of intelectual blarney. Subtlety just
doesn't come any simpler than it does here.
4 1/2 GIBLOONS
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