on 14 May 2013
Nicolas Roeg's 1971 masterpiece Walkabout ia one of those films at that can be viewed on many different levels at many different times and never feels dated. The material is timeless and the film has the power to remain with you long after viewing it.
The concept of the film is quite simple. Two children a six year old boy (Lucien John) and his sixteen year old sister (jenny Agutter) are left to fend for themselves in the harsh Australian outback after the suicide of their father in the desert. After several days of trying to survive they meet a young aboriginal boy (David Gumpilil) on his walkabout (the tribal journey in the desert that serves as an initiation to manhood) who helps them to find the way back to civilization.
Even though the plot is simple the ideas are not. The film is a meditation on the primitive versus the modern. It explores societal expectations like few films before or sense and it takes on the clash of cultures as well. Beyond this Walkabout is a coming of age story for both its male and female protagonists.
Roeg was a cinematographer long before he became a director and his attention to detail comes across quite clearly in this film. There are moments when the film takes on the magic and mystery of a painting and the film's detail to landscapes is truly amazing.In addition to the photography the score by John Barry is well integrated into the structure of the film and continues the contrast between the old and the new.
The Criterion Collection Blu Ray is well worth the purchase price as it presents the film in a format that is better than most viewers originally saw it in the cinema. If there is a problem it may be that the audio is not as crisp as one would like but this is really only a minor problem. A wealth of supplentary material is offered including a commentary with Roeg and Agutter, interview segments with Luc Roeg and Agutter and an hour long feature on actor David Gumpilil.
This one comes well recommended.
on 19 June 2000
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.
on 7 January 2009
This is one of the most beautiful, original and intriguing films of the last 50 years, and has for a very long time been among my favourites. Nic Roeg is the equal of any director (even David Lean) when it comes to sumptuous camera work (he was a cinematographer before he became a director), and when combined with his imaginative direction and storytelling, as here, the product is unique and breathtaking. Perfectly acted by the young Jenny Agutter accompanied by Roeg's own son Luc (billed as Lucien John) and David Gumpilil, I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone who enjoys cinema as art.
It is therefore a matter of great regret that when reissuing the DVD last year, UCA did not see fit to provide us with anything better than a copy of the original release: the DVD is apparently still not anamorphic, only letterbox, the quality of the transfer is merely adequate (hardly better than the old VHS tape) and the extras are laughably basic. When there exists a German anamorphic PAL version, and the Criterion Collection edition released in the US (also non-anamorphic, sadly) has a Roeg+Agutter commentary, it is sad that the country of the film's origin cannot boast a DVD release worthy of such a classic film. Owning, as I do, the original DVD in its jewel-box case (remember those?), I shall not be buying this reissue, but will wait and hope for a future release that does justice to this beautiful film.
on 4 January 2015
Walkabout is an unusual film in that it has both an intriguing story, thought provoking and good wide-angle shots of the outback flora, fauna and landscape . A little dated in that the I hope things have now improved between the indigenous Australian people (aborigines) and the 'recent' white visitors. Films of this nature and time period (mid-late 20th century) do remind the viewer of the ingrained fear and prodigiousness of the recent past . This mistrust surfaces when the aborigine boy meets the two abandoned children (abandoned by there father - reasons unknown) and no-doubt saving ultimately their lives by providing food and water (both physically and by training the two to find food and water for themselves) in addition to leading them to safety. The fear/mistrust surfaces on multiple occasions throughout the film. Some of these reasons for mistrust are explained and some unexplained. Whilst on other occasions this mistrust appears to be (on the surface) non-existent as the language barrier/communication improves after the passage of time. This distrust is predominantly between the aborigine (currently on the male-right of passage trek in the wilderness ) and the girl, with the younger boy just being interested and friendly. In fact acting as the bridge in communication on multiple occasions. This film also leaves the viewer with some unknowns, specifically in what happens off camera (if anything) between the older two members of the trio (Aborigine and the Girl). Is there some attraction/ perhaps general curiosity between the two sexes/ teenagers? with the added complication of the two individuals coming from two separated worlds/ limited communication and unusual stressful scenario. The actual level of any such attraction / interpretation and how far it actually goes, could be affected by the personal viewers experience of films of this type-which the film carefully 'plays to' and allows the viewer to decide. No black or white answers given just occasional suggestions. The film jumps from moments of joy, happiness to the harsh realties of culture clash and surviving in a hostile environment. Also eluded too, is the difference between the aborigine way of life (working with the environment - only taking what you need to survive) and the 'white-mans' view (stereotypical I know) of exploiting nature.
One key question that was left unanswered (no visual clue) was why/and indeed how the aborigine ends his life. Was it self-inflicted or did something else/someone else cause his death. Films (ones that do not initially provide all of the answers) always intrigue me and deserve multiple viewings ( at least 6 months apart) to see if you (the viewer) have missed any subtle clues.
No sequel (just some additional footage at the end - personal memory? of Marys at the end). So any answers need to be provide from your own imagination. I have watched the film three times and I personally do not have the definitive answers. My rent the book from the library or download a kindle copy but I am currently unsure of which book/version to read, as there appears to be published books ,multiple titles of the same story with slightly different scenarios i.e. the two children are plane crash survivors (walkabout - James Vance Marshall). I still do not know which came first the film of the book I suspect the book. I need to locate the original publication.
As you've probably gathered most of the reviews are for the 'DVD' version of the haunting and visually beautiful Australian drama “Walkabout”. And the 'BLU RAY' variant of it has long been available in the States and several other territories. But which BLU RAY issue do you buy if you live in Blighty?
Unfortunately the uber-desirable USA Criterion release is REGION-A LOCKED - although it doesn't say so on Amazon. So it WILL NOT PLAY on most UK BLU RAY players unless they're chipped to play 'all' regions (which the vast majority aren't). Don’t confuse BLU RAY players that have multi-region capability on the 'DVD' front – that won’t help.
Luckily the UK and other territory versions are REGION B - so they will play the 1971 classic on UK machines.
So check your player’s region coding acceptability if you want the pricier Criterion release (which is said to have a stunning transfer)...if not…opt for the UK released BLU RAY at a far healthier price…
on 29 July 2004
What more can I add to the other reviews of Nic Roeg's spellbinding,unforgettable and cryptic movie? The multitude of memorable visual moments and set pieces are its appeal. When their father inexplicably tries to shoot them and then kills himself, two youngsters are stranded in the Australian Outback, where they are rescued on the brink of starvation by a lone aboriginal boy.(David Gumpilil) Together, they begin the long, arduous trek back to civilisation.
It is the combination of sumptous cinematography of a beautiful and frightening landscape, a fantastic score by John Barry (probably his best ever) and Roeg's portrayal of the touching, complicated and ultimately tragic relationship that builds between the protagonists, that makes this work so effective. Jenny Agutter, in a role infinately more faceted and mature than in 'The Railway Children' (which this incidently predates by a number of months) has most of the infrequent dialogue and carries the story along superbly, but it's the final scene, a memory, a flashback to something that may or may not have happened, that stays with you long, long after the final credits have rolled.
on 25 March 2005
Nicolas Roeg is one of the most daring and original directors that British cinema has ever produced.
In "Walkabout", a 19-year old Jenny Agutter and her kid brother are left stranded in the Australian outback when their father commits suicide on a family picnic. They wander through the wilderness and meet a young aboriginal man who protects them and develops an unrequited attraction for Agutter... It's a beautifully shot, meditative drama about freedom, nature, innocence and survival.
I will say this though, that while "Walkabout" is one of Roeg's most stunning movies, it isn't necessarily a film that you would want to watch over and over again. Though I love it, I tend to watch it once every few years, mainly for the beautiful cinematography... It's a quiet, contemplative film without a lot of dialogue or action, so maybe rent it first and see if it's your cup of tea. But no serious film fan should ignore it.
And check out Roeg's other movies, too!
on 16 July 2004
What is the unique appeal of this film? The beauty and desolation of the outback? Wonderful natural acting? An intimacy and empathy with the characters? Multi-layered themes and insights on modern life? A melodic, wistful score? Nic Roeg's clever direction and camerawork? An ending that makes you reassess the film? Or is it simply the magnetic Jenny Agutter?
Whatever it is, I find Walkabout to be a unique and absorbing film that stands up to repeated viewings. On second viewing, I enjoyed it more as I appreciated the subtle and subliminal nuances. However, it also has its faults. In my view, the sexual awakening and clash of cultures are too crudely sign-posted in places.
This film will linger in the mind because of its beauty, innocence, strangeness and sadness.
on 28 July 2006
The "best films ever" lists often compiled nearly always contain the usual Taxi Driver, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather and so on, and while they are all undoubtedly excellent films, Walkabout is an easy challenge to them.
I can't help but feel some anger towards those who criticse it for lacking a storyline... to say that is to miss the point. The whole point is that it was never supposed to have a real plot. Some things will never be explained; why would the father drive his children into the outback to kill himself after attempting to shoot his own children, and why would Jenny Agutter's character wander even deeper into the desert with her young brother when they could have followed the road in the direction they had just come? It's true that Walkabout is a strange film. It isn't weird because of any particular aspect of the plot, but because of the imagery, including the alternating shots of the city and outback at the film's start to the similarities between the hunting skills of the Aboriginal Boy to the preparation of meat at a butchers.
This puts some perspective into Walkabout... just because people live in the city their eating habits relly aren't that different to the Aboriginal Boy. Jenny Agutter's character experiences the same feelings for the Aboriginal boy as he feels for her, who in turn interacts with her younger brother. At the same time it makes you realise that in Australia - a modern, developed country - people live lifestyles that haven't changed in thousands of years (yes, ok, the film is not reality and it was made 35 years ago, but it's not exactly fantasy).
I can't really add anything to the comments on the imagery in the film, from the shots of the city to the sweeping desert and close ups of Australian wildlife, not to mention the impressive soundtrack.
The features are a little lacking. An interactive map of Australia, an unusual addition for a DVD, is included, and so is a biography for Nicolas Roeg. But sadly no commentary.
So, all in all, a fascinating film which will really make you think that we are not all so different afterall, and that people can live such primitive lifestyles in the most modern of countries.
on 25 March 2013
Long awaited H.D version of a classic film uses latest software so make sure your firmware on first generation Blu Ray player is updated mine had to be. Having said that they have done a very good job in resotoring this film to its former glory.