Mar 8, 2018

Walkabout (1971)



This movie is way too high quality to be covered on VZ1.  Still, it has enough off-color elements that deserve at least a quick look.




There's clearly a deep and profound statement made by this film - but we'll leave the critical analysis to the critics.  Let's just have a glance at this spectacular (and troubling) film from 1970s Australia.

The two main characters aren't even named - just White Boy (Luc Roeg) and Girl (Jenny Agutter).  They're a couple of wealthy prep school British kids from the suburbs of Sydney.

Their dad has driven them in his Volkswagon deep into the Outback.  The girl sets up a picnic and the boy plays with his toy gun.

Then, out of frickin' nowhere, dad starts firing his gun at them.  The kids hid behind a big pile of rocks.

Then, in a highly troubling scene, dad sets fire to his car and blows his head off.

The girl is smart enough to grab the picnic supplies before venturing out into the desert.

A lot of the film is just them walking through the wilderness.  The scenery is amazing, and really captures the feeling of a hostile wilderness.

The kids aren't very frugal rationing their supplies.  They set up camp, eat their canned goods and listen to the radio.

But it isn't long before the sun and exhaustion start to take their toll.  They find brief relief by an oasis, but it's dried up come morning.

The two are essentially at death's door when they have the good fortune to run into an Aborigine.

They don't speak the same language, but the black boy (as he's listed in the credits and IMDb, played by David Gulpilil) understands enough to lead them to water.

The kids benefit from the Aborigine's ability to live off the land.  He's on a "walkabout" - a rite of passage for Aborigines where they are required to survive alone in the wilderness for a long period of time.

With the Aborigine, the wilderness doesn't seem so threatening.  In fact, the kids begin to enjoy themselves.

The three kids paint the rocks in the tradition of the Aborigines
The girl takes a swim in a beautiful cove while the Aborigine hunts for them.  One of the great nude scenes, without a doubt.

The scene of beauty is interspersed with rather gruesome images of the Aborigine killing a kangaroo and other wild animals.  The juxtaposition of sex and death has never been captured better.

It's interesting that Jenny Agutter used a body double for her shower scene in American Werewolf in London; yet delivers the full frontal here with no problem.

Moving on, the three really start to share a bond - and the Aborigine develops an attraction for the girl.

The film is full of amazing scenes capturing Australia's varied landscapes

They come upon an abandoned homestead.  The girl wants to stay here for a while.

The girl is getting dressed when she catches a horrifying sight...

The Aborigine has painted himself up and is crouching and jumping around maniacally.  The girl doesn't realize this is a courtship dance, and freaks out.

She and her brother hole themselves up in the homestead while the courtship ritual goes on and on, endlessly outside.  Eventually, they fall asleep.

When they awake, they find that their black friend is gone.  The girl knows that the homestead can't be too far from civilization, so the two get cleaned up and ready to leave.

The two put their prep school clothes back on, putting this adventure behind them.

But when they leave, they find the Aborigine has hung himself.  Little does the girl realize, her denial of his courtship dance was a humiliation to him.

The two find their way to a depressing mining town.  The unfriendly locals begrudgingly deliver the kids safely back to their home.

The film fast forwards to a kitchen.  The girl is now older, married.... as she looks into her husband's eyes she remembers her days in the wild....

The movie ends with the girl, her brother and the Aborigine, naked and frolicking in the water - carefree in their idyllic natural paradise.

The movie literally ends with a shot of Jenny Agutter's bush.  I'm not kidding.

And there you have it.  Easily the highest quality film reviewed on VZ1 thus far; yet it still contains the hallmarks of the trashy flicks regularly reviewed here: violence, nudity and horror.  But it's done with a purpose - to convey a very profound statement.  The meaning isn't lost to me, but I'll refrain from delivering a boring, high-brow treatise.  This isn't a community college film studies course.  Suffice it to say, this film has it all: mind blowing cinematography, deft storytelling, skillful conveyance of a powerful message, and epic nudity.

★★★

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