Walkabout (Nicolas Roeg, 1971)

9 times out of 10, the random images and near-subliminal cuts that abound in  Walkabout would annoy me and merely seem like an exercise in style.  Really, Roeg’s style in Walkabout is no different from the exact style I’ve seen before that’s pissed me off…and yet, it didn’t really piss me off this time.  In fact, there was something tantalizing and attractive about it that just adds to the complexity of the movie.  That scene, for example, where the weather researchers look longingly at their female colleague (and by God Roeg wants you to notice that) would be stupid and irrelevant in just about any other movie.  Here, though, it’s like the age-old Shakespearean method of having a sub-plot run parallel to and comment on the main story’s message: here, making the tantalizing sexual undertones between the girl and the aborigine obvious.  Like Don’t Look Now, any sense of time in Walkabout is completely irrelevant.  It doesn’t matter how long these kids have been wandering through the desert, just that they are, and that they simultaneously grow both closer to and further apart from their Aborigine companion.  It could be for a day, could be for a month (hell, could be forever based on that ambiguous ending).  Near-subliminal intercutting of such images as kangaroo hunting, a butcher doing his job, the kids’ mutilated father, and nature’s cycle of life and death border on unnecessary and overly-stylized at spots, but otherwise it makes their journey not an adventurous quest, but a larger-than-life journey within, as the boundaries between civilization and supposed primitivism ultimately cannot be crossed, much like the stark difference between the downtown Sydney of the beginning and the endless stretches of desert (and thank god for Roeg’s eye for the camera here, needless to say).  Here’s a movie that’s beautiful, awe-inspiring, as well as frustrating and even infuriating and difficult to sit through…and one that needs to be seen many times over.



1 comment so far

  1. kmpnote on

    Hello. I am a Japanese.Your criticism is very interesting! I love this movie too. English is weak, so please to see thoughts wrote.

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