Monday, June 22, 2009

A Walk To Remember

Directed by Nicholas Roeg

"I don't suppose it matters which way we go"
Two children are left to fend for themselves in the Australian wilderness after the father drives them out into the middle of nowhere and tries to murder them, setting his car on fire and eventually turning the gun on himself.
Wandering around and proving they have no survival skills whatsoever, they meet an aboriginal boy on a Walkabout, an initiation ritual. Initially the girl is afraid of the boy, but her younger brother makes friend across the language barrier. It is this same barrier transcended at first that ultimately proves still far to vast for any substantial communication.
The aboriginal boy now become a man, on his own quest, follows the trumpets of adolescent hormone and propositions the girl in the only manner he knows how; a mating dance.
The girl misunderstanding, or outright refusing, and defacto invoking her "civilized ladylike nature in the face of his "savage" dance, leaves the boy hurt and distraught, with tragic results.
Just as two people can stand next to each one not knowing the other is in love with them, so do the kids find themselves, next to a highway all along. When they return to civilization though, they find no one will open their doors to assist them, and they end up wandering the paved streets just as lost in their familiar world, as they were in the wilds.
The story itself is unremarkable, but the film making particularly the editing is what tells this films story which is far grander in scope than it would initially lead you to believe.
Civilization, technology, innocence, sex, communication, death, rebirth, the cyclical nature of time, are all illuminated in this film through visual and auditory juxtapositions.
So many mirror images and sounds end up in this film that it almost overwhelms the story, thankfully it walks that razors edge with a grace, daring, and sense of purpose you just don't see today, at least not at such a technical level.
Nicholas Roeg's skills are found in his virtuoso editing, ranging from films like "The Man Who Fell To Earth" to "Don't Look Now", but his cultural sensitivity, and ability to make a film so simple and earnest feel epic and timeless, is why "Walkabout" is one of the greatest films ever made. The many wonderful Australian landscapes on display are icing on a very multi-layered cake.

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