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“Walkabout” (1971) ***** 5 out of 5 stars 20th Century Fox

Movie Corner 

By HOWARD McQUITTER II

A riveting film by Nicholas Roeg in which  a teenage girl, (Jenny Agutter), and her younger brother, Lucien John, (Luc Roeg), find themselves in unforeseen circumstances in the Australian Outback. The two youngsters and their father are supposedly on their way to a picnic.  Without warning, the father (John Meillon), stops the car and starts shooting at the children who seek refuge behind a rock.  Then, the father sets the car on fire before shooting himself in the head. The teenage girl, witnessing the horror, shields her brother from seeing the incident. 

Out in the middle of nowhere in scorching heat, crawling with scorpions and snakes and seemingly endless sand, the two English children walk for miles.  Tired and hungry, they come upon a watering hole.  It is here they meet the Aboriginal Boy, (David Gulpilil), who knows the Outback backwards and forwards. 

Gulpilil’s character,  just known as Black Boy, shows the two white children how to hunt and survive in the harshness of the Outback.   In one scene, Gulphilil is wrestling a small buffalo to the ground before he’s nearly run over by white men in a truck. They are shooting at buffalo with rifles, more for sport than for food.   This reckless act by the white men is indicative of the decades of Western civilization. 

“Walkabout” has its share of nudity, especially by Aqutter’s character.The swimming scenes create sexual tension between her and the Aborigine. The watering hole and the farmhouse are two places where the three characters can be playful. And, it must be mentioned, not only are the English children and the Aborigine from different cultures, there’s a language barrier as well.   The contrast between Western civilization’s “superior” culture and the simplicity of humanity’s natural ways are well-portrayed in the movie. 

Nicholas Roeg (1928-2018), the director of “Walkabout”, also has directed works such as the films “Performance” (1970), “Don’t Look Now” (1973), and “The Man Who Fell To Earth” (1976). The cinematography by Anthony Roeg is breathtaking. The soundtrack by John Barry (1933-2011) is extraordinary.  

Cast: Jenny Aqutter (Girl), Luc Roeg (Lucien John), David Gulpilil (Black Boy), John Meillion (Father), Robert McDarra (Man), Pete Carver (Wo Hopper), John Illingsworth (Husband), Hilary Bemberger (Woman), Barry Donnelly (Australian Scientist),  CarlManehini (Italian Scientist). 

Running Time: 100 minutes

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