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Walkabout

Walkabout (1971)

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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 3
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 0

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Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 7,575

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Movie Info

The contrast between modern, urban civilization and life in the natural world lies at the heart of Nicolas Roeg's visually dazzling drama Walkabout. In broad outline, the plot might resemble a standard fish-out-of-water tale: two city children become stranded in the Australian outback, and struggle to find their way back to civilization with the help of a friendly aborigine boy. But Roeg and screenwriter Edward Bond are concerned with far more than the average wilderness drama, as a shocking act

R,

Classics, Action & Adventure

Apr 21, 1998

20th Century Fox

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Latest News on Walkabout

June 28, 2005:
Mark Gordon to Produce a Remake of "Don't Look Now"
The Hollywood Reporter brings news of yet another remake that's on the way. Producer Mark Gordon...

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All Critics (34) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (25) | Rotten (2) | DVD (15)

For the most part, Walkabout is an involving, occasionally hypnotic, motion picture.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: ReelViews
ReelViews
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Is it a parable about noble savages and the crushed spirits of city dwellers? That's what the film's surface seems to suggest, but I think it's also about something deeper and more elusive: The mystery of communication.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Roeg intercuts images of modern life with the lushness of nature -- offering a stunning fable about the importance of respecting the earth.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[VIDEO] "Walkabout" is a poetic film that incorporates a collective subconscious of humanist values.

March 14, 2011 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

A unique survival film, that has become a cult favorite.

June 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Peeling colonialism, awakening and the Dawn of Man are fiercely indicated in Roeg's wondrous fever

March 1, 2010 Full Review Source: CinePassion
CinePassion

The overt symbolism hampers a subject and approach that could have led to a sublime result.

February 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Film and Felt | Comment (1)
Film and Felt

Walkabout's obvious concern is the relationship between two parties, separated by centuries of diverting societal behaviors, and thus, differentiated perceptions of sexual roles and etiquette. But what ensues is more ambiguous and interpretative.

November 12, 2002 Full Review Source: Not Coming to a Theater Near You
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Roeg creates in Walkabout a world of his own, a microcosmos that is at once beautiful, primitive, wild, familiar yet unfamiliar, thoughtful, and thought provoking.

October 29, 2002 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Roeg would go on to better films, but the basics of his approach are found in this landmark work of haunting beauty and ugliness.

August 21, 2002 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

An innocent family picnic turns existential in Nicolas Roeg's brilliant Walkabout.

August 7, 2001 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

intensely felt film about the conflicts between civilization and nature, and the tragedy that can result when two people are unable to communicate

February 27, 2001 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Strangely beautiful

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Roeg's points about the contrasts between noble savages and civilized effetes don't stand up terribly well over time. Still, much of the film does hold up.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

In the day since I've seen the film, I cannot put it out of my mind. Its images continue to be savored, and I will never forget the three travelers through the desert.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Internet Reviews
Internet Reviews

Audience Reviews for Walkabout

Visually Walkabout is like a box of chocolates. This makes sense in a way as Nicolas Roeg tackles a multitude of issues, not that every one is filmed differently or anything but all are individual, contrasting, delicious and moreish. Apart from the the coffee flavoured chocolate that spoils things somewhat. The coffee flavoured chocolate I'm referring to is the sexual statements made. It certainly has its place in the film and I'm certainly no proud, but I do feel that many important aspects of this film have been missed because Walkabout has become 'The film where Roberta 'Bobbie' Waterbury from The Railway Children goes skinny dipping'. It's overdone to an uncomfortable level. I know Jenny Agutter was 21 at the time but still. It is only a minor dent however in what is an astonishing achievement. This is how you edit a film! The snappy effects and multi-layering of images highlights the similarities and differences of the issues of nature, destruction, rites of passage and humanity perfectly. It's visually rich as it is culturally important, a film to discuss and one that's hard to forget.
April 3, 2014
SirPant

Super Reviewer

Strong, magical and beautiful, Nicolas Roeg's friendly tale show a great meeting between urban life and natural world.
August 2, 2012
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

A beautifully photographed film with the backdrop of the Australian outback.
October 27, 2011
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

Director Nicolas Roeg's (`Don't Look Now') cinematographic skills and admiration pay especial tribute to Walkabout's powerful combination of Australia's awesome scenic diversity and the sensual Jenny Agutter, and the whole effect is embellished by John Barry's sublimely magical score. I would hasten to add that as well as being very pleasing to watch, enhanced by Roeg's voyeuristic use of the camera, Agutter provides a skilful performance as a prejudiced unworldly teenager, who is naively unaware of the sexuality she exudes whether naked or wearing her high cut school skirt. Although it was a somewhat amusing shock to recently discover that a body double was employed for Agutter in the shower scenes for `An American Werewolf in London', no such deceit was used in this film. Immediately after filming `Walkabout', Agutter reprised her BBC serialisation role of two years earlier as Bobbie for Lionel Jeffries' sumptuous version of Edith Nesbit's `The Railway Children', ensuring her immortalization as an iconographic beauty. She graduated thirty years on into the role of the mother for a Carlton TV production and is currently involved in producing a film script about the life of the author.

On a deadly picnic into the desert a father (John Meillon; `Crocodile Dundee') inexplicably snaps, shooting at his two children before torching his car and turning the gun on himself. Now the children, absurdly kitted out in their formal school uniforms, are lost and carelessly lose their provisions, except for the transistor radio with its inane babble being another illustration of how hopeless our technology is against nature. Fortuitously they stumble upon an oasis and find their only saviour in the form of an Aborigine (David Gulpilil; `Rabbit Proof Fence') on a rites-of-passage walkabout. The seven year old boy (Lucien John, the director's son) happily has a child's ability to communicate with the Aborigine despite the language barrier, something his older sister never grasps, deftly demonstrated on their first encounter when she is increasingly frustrated by the lack of comprehension of her demands for water. Roeg crosscuts stunning kaleidoscopic images of the physical landscape and its critters, with the killing of animals and the domestic butchering of joints of meat to give a stark contrast between nature and civilisation. However, given this was his first solo effort, his overworked montages can be a little irritating and confusing, and show off the cinematographer rather than the director in Roeg.

The director emphasises the unrealised sexual tension by explicitly marrying shots of both the teenagers with suggestive trees in the form of intertwined human limbs, as well as providing us with a diverting interlude involving a group of meteorologists. The deeply sad misunderstanding of the two cultures gives poignancy to the film that is its strength, especially delineated by the Aborigine's tribal courtship dance for Agutter, which only serves to terrify her and increase her distrust. Her lack of emotion for their former helpmate is staggering. When faced with a dangling corpse the girl asks trivial questions of her brother about his breakfast whilst pointlessly picking ants off the body. The tragic outcome is also indicative of the current state of Aboriginal life expectancy with a higher proportion dying through accident, assault and self-harm than any other Australian demographic group.

The failure of her parents to prepare her for the change from childhood may have contributed to the tragedy, and it is only on reflection years later, living the same life as her parents and similarly caged in an apartment block, that Agutter's character senses that maybe she missed her chance. It is interesting to note that the children are deliberately English to highlight the cultural clash between the European settlers and the original inhabitants of this ancient land, and I wonder if similarly white Australians would have had any more understanding of the indigenous customs of the Aborigine boy. `Walkabout' is a far more visual depiction of sexual awakening colliding with alien cultures than that other famous picnic that goes horribly wrong in Peter Weir's `Picnic at Hanging Rock' (which this predates by four years), with its metaphorically implied unease centred on a sacred Aboriginal site that eventually destroys the established order of a Ladies College.

`Walkabout' is as relevant today as when it was released in the era of '70's industrialisation with the Kakadu National Park once again under threat from a new uranium mine on its boundary. The Northern Territory's tribe Mirrar is currently involved in this dispute over land rights and excavations, although mining was temporarily ceased on Aboriginal land in the mid 1990's. This is a sensitive issue as Australia's economy relies on the export of uranium in the production of nuclear power, and Aborigines oppose the exploitation of the Earth's resources for profit. The company at the centre of this discord also operates the Ranger mine which is depicted along with the rock band Midnight Oil (well known for their campaigning land rights missive `Beds Are Burning') in eX de Medici's `Nothing's As Precious As A Hole In The Ground', a recent acquisition by Australia's National Portrait Gallery.

Despite last year's rush by some of Hollywood's well-known directors returning home to make Aboriginal films, including Phillip Noyce's `Rabbit Proof Fence' (released 21 February) about the 'Stolen Generation', and `Yolngu Boy' which did well at a film festival in Colorado, I sadly suspect very few of us in the UK are likely to see them. Apparently there has not been a commercial success for a black-themed movie since 1955's `Jedda', the first Australian feature to star Aboriginal actors. If the hope of a '70's New Wave style revival is to be realised for Australian cinema, surely it is time for the industry worldwide to wake up to the fact that a wealth of film exists outside of Hollywood, and that the viewing public may actually welcome some variety.

With the release of the director's full cut in 1998 both the DVD and the video are unusually available for the UK as well as the US from Amazon.
February 10, 2011
matertenebraum

Super Reviewer

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