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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 14 February 2015
A teacher, stuck in an out~backwater school goes to Sydney for the Christmas holidays. At least that's the plan, but unfortunately he stops over in the town of Bundanyabba (A.K.A. The Yabba for short) and never quite makes it. Unfortunately fate plays him a bum note and he ends up spending his time, coerced by the locals, into some sort of existential self discovery into his own heart of darkness, during some regrettable lost weekend.
Will the locals accept him? And if so, can he escape their acceptance, and then accept what he learns about himself along the way..?

This is an absolute cracker it really is, just a joy from start to finish. Yes, at times it's uncomfortable viewing, with unsettling characters, and even more unsettling sequences. But don't be put off by that, because it's overall message (at least for me) is one of discovery, understanding and enlightenment.
Which all makes a film about beer drinking and kangaroo hunting sound very high brow doesn't it? But just watch it and hopefully you'll see what I mean.
The acting is extremely good from all concerned, some of which is delivered by none actors, especially during the gambling sequence, which just makes it all the more impressive for it.
On a final note it maybe worth mentioning that the 'kangaroo hunting' contained may upset some viewers.

The Masters of Cinema Blu Ray looked spot on to me, with several short documentaries as extras and a commentary track.

5/5
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on 7 March 2014
Wake in Fright was initially released in 1971 and is back with us after a 40 year absence and promises to be one of the more worthy and delightful releases of the year, arriving straight after the Oscars hoopla has been and gone. In its first incarnation, was nominated for a Palme D'Or, had a sub titled long run in a cinema in Paris, then sat undiscovered in an archive for years, and was at one time going to be destroyed. Scorsese is but one of its famous fans and it would appeal to Scorsese's sense of the beautiful and brutal in male chauvinism. It is a film that both compounds the cultural clichés of its native land, rebukes them and not surprisingly was and is controversial in being an honest and true account of the nastier elements of Australian culture - right down to the depiction of an actual kangaroo killing spree, just when 'Skippy' was one of the nation's much treasured exports.
The film is adapted from the book of the same name, a critically acclaimed bestselling novel by Kenneth Cook, with a foreword (and forewarning…), "you may dream of the devil and wake in fright."
Its central protagonist, John Grant (played by Gary Bond who looks like a brown eyed, young Peter O Toole) suffers immeasurably, descending into madness as the menfolk who surround him show him the delights of 'The Yabba.' A wide panning shot of Tiboonda - the one school, arid and heat caked location shows the life for John to escape from, bound for Sydney with a one night stop off at Bundanyabba, where his money is lost on a gambling turn for the worst.
Throughout the film there are flashbacks to a better life, a beautiful girl, a creature given the iconographic stature of a bond femme fatale coming out of the waves of a glorious beach to kiss her man. An image so far, far away from the spiralling madness which is his present and the ever recurring message that the life that is on offer is for a 'good bloke.' The prospect of sex offered to John makes him sick. Little wonder upon the discovery that the woman, Janette, played brilliantly by Sylvia Kay has been with most of the men in the town, the more distasteful aspects of her sexuality welcomed by her soul mate 'Doc' Tydon, a role given over with relish by Donald Pleasence.
This educated man, alone and lost in the world in which he has found himself is gradually taught the ways of the life (the beers in Yabba are called 'West End' offering the promise of a glamorous existence felt elsewhere) and 'Doc' painstakingly offers one empty philosophy after another behind the justification of a nilhistic and nasty life, none of which hold any credence with John's consistent distaste, the fight these two have as drunk buddies though smacks of the wafer thin distance between male bonding and homosexuality. The killings of the Kangaroos is very disturbing and not for the squeamish, but is essential in showing the sheer degradation and impoverishment of spirit abound in Yabba. The director, determined to offer the required realism shot it as real stock footage with a note in the end credits as to the authenticity.
Coming to us in the first quadrant of the year, this delightful gem of a film - a lost classic, deservedly beloved by the great and good in moviedom is most welcome and deserves to be a fair way ahead of Mad Max as iconographic modern Australian Cinema. See first in the cinema, then buy as collectors piece, it's a keeper.
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on 25 November 2013
A great accidental find for me - I'd never heard of it. Gary Bond is a very English sounding Aussie who wants out of the Outback. Beyond that it'd be giving out too much information to say much more than it is a compelling and very well shot 'wilderness' film which is undeniably brutal, as supposedly civilized (though perhaps rather arrogant) natural city-dweller finds himself trying to get home for Christmas and away from the threat of 'going native'. In fact the threat from the Aussie country lads (and gal) is very well done. However, it doesn't necessarily go all 'Straw Dogs' as you might expect after the first twenty minutes or so. Donald Pleasance heads the grotesques in a subtle, knowing performance of a subtle, knowing man with 'issues'. Gripping stuff.
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on 31 October 2012
Truly one of the greatest of all Australian films. Released ( and restored) for the first time and uncut on Bluray and it looks fantastic. A film to see over and again.The bluray has many extras as well.One of the great cinematic films of the century.
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on 12 June 2014
If you like 'if' its in the same mold of film - really interesting film and the print and the extras are brilliant.
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on 5 November 2014
...and the best I've seen since Walkabout. A genuinely haunting mood piece with deep social leanings and a distinct ugliness no other film can be compared with. Masterfully directed and acted and some of the most effective editing I have ever seen. Top-class cinematography and a beautifully mysterious score. Way ahead of its time.
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on 13 December 2016
Excellent film and product which was extremely well packed/posted. A superb underrated Australian movie that was made over 45 years ago and doesn't look a bit dated. There are still some shocking scenes, notably the kangaroo shoot but this is offset by the natural and realistic acting of all the cast, most of them Australian of course. Well worth a look.
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on 29 June 2016
Doc Tydon (Donald Pleasance) muses at one point during an "all night session" of drinking and hunting, that civilisation (so-called) may be defined as a man in smoking jacket with the capacity to press a button that can kill a billion people. Doc's choice is the freedom to live in the outback as an alcoholic left alone by authorities to practice medicine without charge. At first glance, the response to this film can be of nodding superiority at the brutal lives of those depicted in the Australian "outback" who drink, gamble and carouse in a gross way. At first glance it is reminiscent of those depicted in Boorman's Deliverance but that film shows very little sympathy for the "mountain people". In Wake in Fright a much more complex approach is taken towards those who inhabit the savage landscape of the "outback". The characters are not without generosity and kindness and generally engage in self-harming behaviour rather behaviour which harms others. In this regard we only
have contrast the Kangaroo shoot in the film with the industrial slaughter of millions of animals for such products as hamburgers. Nor do we have to look far at the great Australian heroes of capitalism such as the Packers who have made their fortunes, and continue to make their fortunes from gambling.Australians lose something approaching $12 billion a year on poker machines. In contrast, two up, as shown in Wake in Fright is perhaps the fairest gambling of all, where the winners and losers are in plain sight, and the odds are fifty/fifty. In short, Wake in Fright is a very interesting examination of a part of Australian society in its complexity. Admittedly, because we are introduced to the outback through the eyes of the teacher, the mood is menacing, but by the end of the film that menace has dissipated and is replaced by a new understanding. The teacher returns it is true because he is bonded to do so, but he seems now a wiser and better man with a greater generosity of spirit.Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world, it would be foolish to take the mis en scene of Wake in Fright as typical. Nevertheless it's real. As is in the closing minutes of the film, where our "hero" is returning by train to his outback school after Xmas holidays, and a traveller up the front of his carriage yells out "Like a beer Mate" which our hero accepts graciously and with a renewed
understanding of himself and his adopted country. A brilliant film, with not a wasted scene, which holds up incredibly well since its production in 1971. A tribute also to the Australian National Film Archive for its preservation of this masterpiece.
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on 15 May 2016
Wake in Fright is the stuff that nightmares are made of. What happens to one person when they think that they can beat the house, and wanting to get out of their so called mundane life.

Having your freedom and money to do it is a pipe dream to some of us, and John should have quit while he was ahead, he knew that something wasn't right about the place he was in, a film that makes you angry at the hero is doing something right, he should have just stayed in his room and smiled at the money, rather than let his 'bad side' tell him to go further.

It's easily one of the finest Australian films ever made, but I'm unsure if it fits into the Ozsploitation banner that the films narrative is tinkering on. In this film, no one is friendly, everyone is sinister, even the ones who appear to be giving and friendly, Kotcheff gives the characters an air that they have some sort of ulterior motive, or hidden agenda.

Pleasance is at his most disturbing here, and ironically the most harmless character here. But there are connotations of so e sort of abuse between Doc and John, and although you never see anything, it's insinuated.

The Kangaroo scene is however one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen, and although it's stock footage of an actual hunt, the editing is superb, and the film just gets darker as the drunken nightmare progresses.

This film should be used as a danger to alcohol, and if you watch closely, the alcohol starts off as looking refreshing and inviting, but soon the bottles and cans become more dirty, less inviting, and equal signs of trouble ahead.

There is a little twist toward the end, but it's a wonderful psychedelic nightmare, you'll never want to be drunk in a strange place again.

An essential movie, truly terrifying.
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on 5 December 2016
Excellent movie.

Holds up very well after all these years.

It is not a flattering portrait of Australian life in the "outback" that's for sure, but that wasn't the point.

Perfectly cast, interesting story, the Masters of Cinema release has some insightful extras & dual format is always good value.

Recommended.
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