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on August 10, 2010
I came across a description of this film a while ago which made it sound like an overwrought B Picture, a format to accurately represent the world it depicts - melodramatic, crude and brash. It is much more than that. From the opening 360' panning shot around the tiny wooden platform of an Australian outback station, taking in two shabby and rusting buildings dwarfed by an endless vista of red sand, to the brilliant portraits of a range of characters who inhabit this barren and malevolent landscape, it constantly surprises and delights with visual power and human complexity. It is no surprise to discover that the underlying material on which the film is based, a novel by Kenneth Cook, was to have been a project for Dirk Bogarde and Joseph Losey at one point in its development. The film ended in the extremely capable hands of Ted Kotcheff and screenwriter Evan Jones and is beautifully constructed and paced. There is throughout a sense of threat and a sustained tension, but the tensions are those that exist within the central character and which this environment magnifies into threats - they are never simply imposed in a mechanistic fashion. Apparently the film was initially very well received, being lauded at the Cannes Film Festival and achieving some degree of commercial success in certain markets, but in Australia it was seen understandably as a fierce critique of the country and its dominant ethos at a sensitive time and so it disappeared seemingly for ever. The DVD is the result of a long search by the original editor who managed to unearth cans of footage in a warehouse in Philadelphia after many years of fruitless effort - and we should all be extremely grateful to him for preserving and restoring such an important and seminal work of the Australian New Wave.
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on February 10, 2014
Wonderful little film about escaping to the Outback. I don't want to give anything away as I had only heard a little about this film and saw a few clips before buying it blind. It wasn't what I expected but I still very much enjoyed it. I got the impression about it's history as being a bit controversial but didn't find anything really objectionable about it or it's portrayal of the Outback or Australia. It's was a fun and yet dramatic thought-provoking film about one man's vacation letting go. Of course, if hunting bothers you, you might want to skip that part. All in all, a great little Aussie film. Nice print with plenty of extras about this film. Kudos to Image and Drafthouse Films.
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on April 26, 2015
Not everyone's cup of tea. But if you're daring enough and tolerant enough. The hardest part of this viewing is the kangaroo scene. Pleasence is the silver lining in this immense eccentric cinema piece. If anything I recommend a rental if you have a remote interest in this outback journey into madness.
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on February 28, 2015
This film is an Australian classic which still resonates today, especially now that we have an idiot Prime Minister in Tony Abbott and the country feels like it is in the grip of 'ockerism' !!

Watch closely the opening wide shot on the train platform and the end shot, brilliant book end to a disturbing but (having grown up in small Australian towns) realistic journey through Australian outback culture. Great actors appear in this film Jack Thompson and Chips Rafferty in particular stand out, it also has a British cast and was a co-production with Canada/England I think?! Regardless it typifies the culture and attitudes of early 1960s Australia and even though it is shot with incredible cinematic style and wide panoramic landscapes it leaves you feeling incredibly claustrophobic.

It is Australia's 'Deliverance' the parallels and disturbances in this film have the same gripping impact, great viewing please watch!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon June 8, 2013
Wake In Fright (1971) is an edgy and occasionally violent drama, set in Australia, that follows a school teacher's bizarre journey into a world, where fueled by alcohol, his inhibitions are lowered, and his darker nature emerges. Recognized at the time of its release as a significant contributor to Australian cinema, this interesting and thought provoking film, originally titled "Outback", had somehow become lost for many years, until a print was fortunately discovered. The restored movie, then became the source for this Bluray release.

John Grant (Gary Bond) is a teacher in the small town of Tiboonda, a dusty speck located somewhere deep in outback country. On holiday for the summer, he takes a train to the city of Bundanyabba, planning to stay for the night, before heading to Sydney. While drinking in a tavern, the teacher is befriended by Jock Crawford (Chips Rafferty) the local constable, and soon finds himself drawn to the town's major source of entertainment, gambling. Initially a big winner, Grant's fortune reverses, and he finds himself flat broke, and dependent on the kindness of strangers.

With few options, Grant ends up at the home of a local, and after a night of heavy drinking, awakens in the cabin of Doc Tydon (Donald Pleasance). Joined by two other locals, the four men drive off into the bush to hunt kangaroos. In some memorable stomach turning scenes, kangaroos are brutally gunned down, and the wounded animals are then maimed or killed. Graphic footage from an actual kangaroo hunt is featured, and watching the helpless animals being massacred, is not a pleasant experience.

Constantly drinking to excess, a frequently inebriated Grant, finds himself swept along by circumstances, into participating in some barbaric acts. Disgusted by what he has become, Grant attempts to make his way to Sydney, but his journey seems to follow a circular path, which nearly proves fatal.

Based on a book by Kenneth Cook, and directed by Ted Kotcheff (First Blood,Uncommon Valor,Fun With Dick and Jane), Wake In Fright attempts to reflect in an accurate way, some of the bleak aspects of life in the outback, during this time period. With little hope, most men turn to drinking, gambling, and other vices. Although the film only briefly touches on the subject, with even fewer options, and greatly outnumbered by the male population, life for many women, is even more desperate.

Not a horror film, Wake In Fright plays it straight, showing how a few bad decisions lead to a very educated, civilized, and dignified man, losing sight of his core values, and heading down the road to depravity. Were this tale told today, Grant might receive the "Wolf Creek treatment", and become a victim of a homicidal deviant. Although subject to peer pressure, in this case, the destitute Grant's fall, is largely due to his own decisions.

The acting performances are generally quite strong, with many characters in the film often under the influence of alcohol. Gary Bond is quite an engaging actor, who undergoes a dramatic transition, and seems to be channeling Peter O'Toole at times. This is a physically active role for Donald Pleasance (Halloween,You Only Live Twice) one that even features him shirtless, and involved in love scenes. Pleasance has a tendency to overact at times, but that's just part of his charm.

The image quality of the Bluray may not be that impressive, but it is probably the best the film will ever look, and it does a good job of conveying some sense, of the rugged, dusty, arid environment. Among the extras is a commentary by Ted Kotcheff, and an enlightening Q&A with the director, at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.
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on May 18, 2016
One thing's for damn sure. After you see this film, you're going to start reading the label on your dog's canned food a lot closer. Some unforgettably horrific scenes here -- and don't miss the bonus interview with the filmmaker -- which is actually a little hard to take as he unselfconsciously picks his nose throughout. What a weird guy.
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on May 31, 2014
The Australian film society dug this gem up and remastered it. It was worth the effort.

Here's the scoop. John Grant (Gary Bond) is a teacher in a bust-out town in the Australian Outback. He heads out for his six week summer vacation to Sydney. The town he stops in on his way to the airport proves to get the better of him and he spirals down into a pit of filth and degradation.

This is a rough ride. The group of guys he befriends, including an alcoholic ex-doctor (Donald Pleasence) don't seem to have much to do so they drink, drink, drink, hunt kangaroo and fight. This is an ugly existence. It's a barren, ugly landscape and the people mirror it. The kangaroo hunting scene made me uncomfortable. These were not special effects. They were really shooting these creatures. There was also a homo-erotic shade to parts of this. And given that it was made in 1971 that was some pretty heavy stuff. But the characters make this movie. This is a world apart. If you don't have money they will buy you a beer knowing you will reciprocate when things turn around. They might also take offense if you don't let them buy you a beer. These are some strange folk.

The acting is very good. It was a hoot seeing a young Jack Thompson. It took me a bit to recognize him. Also, this was pre-"Halloween" Donald Pleasence. He was trim and much more physical back then.Ted Kotcheff helmed this outing. A couple of the scenes were a bit heavy handed but most of it was spot on. The soundtrack is also of note. One of the more interesting I've ever heard in a film.

As much as I might know film, this one never crossed my radar. I'm glad it's been reconditioned and released. It's a must see for any film buff.
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on April 9, 2013
This held my interest throughout, even though it is an older movie, the location, Australia, was incredible for this type of story. It is living a structed life, and getting sidetracked and going to opposite direction, and what it will do to head down a road to ruin...
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on May 14, 2012
Like the other person reviewing this film here, my experience is the same. My version, the one advertised here, which I bought from Australia, is only 92 minutes long. As I remember from seeing this film back in the eighties on TV, the film is far more jarring and effective than this watered-down version. Full version is supposed to be 114 minutes RT and this version is a disappointment. Sometimes known under the title, "Outback."
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on July 30, 2013
This film floored me and my wife. 1971 was the very early stirrings of what would become known as the Australian New Wave in cinema, and this film is certainly a very worthy example of that creative outburst. The film has a disconcerting vibe throughout, but the kangaroo sequence is extreme in this regard--a heart of darkness not for the faint of heart.
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