Nicholas Roeg's second film as director, Walkabout, is truly the most beautiful and incredible film I have ever seen (although I say this at the tender age of fourteen)! It tells the story of a father taking his two children, nineteen-year-old Jenny Agutter and six-year-old brother Lucien Roeg (the director's real-life son), on a picnic deep in the Australian outback, where he suddenly commits suicide and leaves them to fend for themselves. They make their way, bewildered and lost, through the hot, dry desert, having no contact with the outside world and fast running out of food and water, before encountering a teenage Aboriginal boy out on his test of endurance, a 'walkabout'. This walkabout, where a boy leaves the tribe and survives on his own for months, is part of his passage into manhood, and is a part of every Aboriginal boy's life. Having befriended the boy, the white children learn more of how to survive in the outback, while there is growing sexual chemistry in the relationship between the girl and the Aborigine. I won't spoil the rest of the film!
Nicholas Roeg's direction and camerawork are simply beautiful. He films wildlife in close-up, sometimes grainy images, and inserts surreal flashback sequences and comparisons between the Aboriginal and Western worlds. The film shows how prim, English Jenny Agutter becomes gradually more dishevelled and natural as she adapts, and the crucial turning point is when she swims naked in a pool. Her relationship with the Aborigine, which has to overcome poignant difficulties such as the language barrier and culture clash, is touchingly shown.
The acting is superb, making the story believable and moving. I was captivated from start to finish. The score, by John Barry, is perfect and atmospheric. The scenery, and Roeg's intense use of it and the animals found there, is spellbinding. All in all, the film is just so incredibly beautiful and moving that I felt I had to write a review. It is a genuine must-see.