Walkabout 0+

Nicolas Roeg, VB 1971, English / Czech subtitles, 100 min

A car stops in the middle of the parched Australian outback. What looks like the beginning of a small family picnic takes a quite different course as a 14-year-old girl and her 6-year-old brother, in an attempt to get back to civilisation, set off on a trek through the captivating orange landscape. Their passage becomes some sort of initiation ritual, a journey towards adulthood on which they are accompanied by a young Aborigine whom they come across one day. Walkabout isn’t a story about a struggle for survival in the scorching desert, although, in some of the shots, the oppressive heat is almost tangible – one can feel the dryness in one’s throat. Nor is it simply a story about the clash of two cultures. The way in which Roeg, who was also cameraman on the film, captures the desert, John Barry’s music, the fragments of poetry, the truly bizarre events the children experience on their pilgrimage, and, above all, the unusual structure of the film with interlaid editing, transform Walkabout into a kind of strange feverish dream. Rather than a place of physical suffering, the outback is presented more as a mystical landscape, where the children go through an inductive and unfamiliar process of experiencing “primitive” life. Their journey through the desolate timeless terrain, full of wild animals, vegetation and colours, resembles an excursion into a God-forsaken, feral and sensuous primordial world, governed by instinct, pure emotion and freedom. Roeg believes in the lost Paradise, where people weren’t confined by rational behaviour, moral rules and concrete walls. Unlike others, however, he seems to suggest that it won’t be found in some pre-industrial world, but slumbers forgotten somewhere deep in the human mind.

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