One of the most original, visually stunning, and provocative films of the 1970s, WALKABOUT is timeless in its beauty and unique approach to a classic coming-of-age story. The film is arguably director Nicolas Roeg's finest achievement.
While on a picnic with his two children in the Australian outback, a man goes insane and kills himself. His 14-year-old daughter (Jenny Agutter), who had witnessed the suicide, tries to prevent her 6-year-old brother (Lucien John) from discovering their father's dead body by taking him away into
the desert. Lost and hungry, they meet up with a teenage aborigine (David Gulpilil) who is on a "walkabout," a ritual during which adolescent aborigine boys must survive several weeks alone in the desert. He is able to kill animals for food and find water underneath the ground, thereby providing
sustenance for himself, the boy, and girl. He speaks no English, and the girl has little patience for his native language. The young boy, however, learns to communicate with him via signals and gestures. As the trio continue their journey, the girl slowly becomes comfortable around the aborigine,
although she refuses to acknowledge the mating dance he does in her honor.
WALKABOUT is set in terrain stranger and more awe-inspiring than that of any science-fiction film. It is filled with hissing lizards, ominous bugs, blinding red sand, and short, misshapen trees. The film has a straightforward story, little dialogue, and few characters. Nevertheless, it is a
remarkably rich and complex narrative. On a basic level, the film is about the way traditional roles and "civilized" upbringings affect people so deeply that the roles cannot be overcome. By placing the children in a setting that's as scary as it is awe-inspiring, WALKABOUT presents one of
cinema's deepest and most convincing studies of the mysteries and wonders of growing up. A restored version of the film was released in the United States in 1997, containing a scene that had been lost from American prints for years. The aborigine, momentarily separated from the boy and girl, is
approached by a white woman. He rebuffs her advances, and she returns to her nearby home, where she lies in bed alone as her husband teaches aborigine children to paint. The scene adds a new dimension to the aborigine, proof that he knew all along that civilization was near, but chose not to bring
the boy and girl there.
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- Released: 1971
- Rating: PG
- Review: One of the most original, visually stunning, and provocative films of the 1970s, WALKABOUT is timeless in its beauty and unique approach to a classic coming-of-age story. The film is arguably director Nicolas Roeg's finest achievement. While on a picnic w… (more)