Sunday, December 17, 2017


Last night's viewing to get something off my DVR was Walkabout.

Jenny Agutter plays The Girl, a teenager living in Australia (although she's revealed to be English later in the movie) with her parents and kid brother (Lucien John, full name Luicen John Roeg and son of director Nicholas Roeg), who apparently have a middle class urban life that involves living in an apartment and doing the same thing every day.

One day, her father (John Mellon) takes the two kids out into the outback for a picnic; why Mom isn't on the trip isn't mentioned. Dad doesn't seem to want to be there, looking at some business papers which imply he's in the mining industry. The kid brother gets out to play, and all of a sudden Dad picks up a gun and starts shooting at the kid! When the girl saves herself and the kid brother behind a pile of rocks, Dad burns the car and shoots himself!

Now, the logical thing to do would be for the kids to walk back out the way they came in. If they weren't on a paved road, they should be able to find tracks, and probably should have some idea of exactly how they got there. And they couldn't have driven that long to get where they are. But no, the idiots go in the opposite direction, which means danger and near certain death.

But they have a bit of luck in that while they're at a watering hole, an Aboriginal yough (David Gulpilil) shows up. He's on a rite of passage known as a "walkabout", when young Aboriginal men have to spend a bunch of time alone in the outback to prove that they can live off the land. But, the Aboriginal boy doesn't speak a word of English. (The exposition about the family being English expats probably has something to do with the girl's idiocy in just speaking more slowly to get the Aboriginal boy to understand English.) Thankfully, the kid brother has enough sense to make a charades drinking motion. The three youths ultimately go off together; of course, the two whites have no idea where they'll be going.

Walkabout is a well-made movie, albeit one that I have some problems with. I already mentioned the huge plot issue for me, but there was another issue in that I didn't care for the constant cutting, interspersing the current action with images of the westernized life the two white kids had back at home. There was even one section that had a couple of frames of some printed material in between the outback shots, which made no sense whatsoever. The story, however, is for the most part good if full of unanswered questions, the outback cinematography is beautiful, and John Barry has an interesting music score.

Walkabout is available on DVD and Blu-ray, but it's courtesy of the Criterion Collection, so it's a bit pricey.

No comments: