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Walkabout (The Criterion Collection)

4.0 out of 5 stars 197 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A lost teen-ager and her little brother meet an Aborigine teen in the Outback. Directed by Nicolas Roeg.

Very few films achieve a kind of subliminal greatness with cross-cultural impact, but Walkabout is one of those films--a visual tone poem that functions more as an allegory than a conventionally plotted adventure. Considered a cult favorite for years, Nicolas Roeg's 1971 film--about two British children who are rescued in the Australian outback by a young aborigine--was originally released in the U.S. with an R rating, edited from its European length of 100 minutes. In 1997, the film was fully restored to its director's cut, and in its remastered video and DVD release, it's now wisely unrated (as Roeg had always intended) but still suitable for viewers of all ages. For parents this is a rare opportunity to treat well-supervised children (ages 5 and over) to an adventure that won't insult their intelligence, presenting scenes of frontal nudity and the hunting of animals in a context that invites valuable discussion and introspection. Through exquisite cinematography and a story of subtle human complexity, the film continues to resonate on many thematic and artistic levels. Roeg had always intended it to be a cautionary morality tale, in which the limitations and restrictions of civilization become painfully clear when the two children (played by Jenny Agutter and Roeg's young son, Lucien John) cannot survive without the aborigine's assistance. They become primitives themselves, if only temporarily, while the young aborigine proves ultimately and tragically unable to join the "family" of civilization. With its story of two worlds colliding, Walkabout now seems like a film for the ages, hypnotic and open to several compelling levels of interpretation. In addition to presenting the film in its original 1.77:1 aspect ratio, the Criterion Collection DVD of Walkabout includes a variety of bonus features, including a full-length commentary by Nicolas Roeg and Jenny Agutter, original theatrical trailers, and an essay by critic Roger Ebert. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Commentary by director Nicolas Roeg and Jenny Agutter
  • Essay by Roger Ebert
  • Original theatrical trailer

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Jenny Agutter, David Gulpilil, Luc Roeg, John Meillon, Robert McDarra
    • Directors: Nicolas Roeg
    • Writers: Edward Bond, James Vance Marshall
    • Producers: Anthony J. Hope, Max L. Raab, Si Litvinoff
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
    • Language: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Number of discs: 2
    • Rated:
      Not Rated
    • Studio: Criterion
    • DVD Release Date: May 18, 2010
    • Run Time: 100 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (197 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B00393SG42
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,624 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Walkabout (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    By Marc A. Coignard on August 13, 2005
    Format: DVD
    In Gus Van Sant's Elephant, we follow several teenagers around for half a day, with little or no dialogue, and with nothing to connect us to the characters. We watch a father drive his kid to school, drunk. We watch three girls vomit in the bathroom after eating lunch. We watch two teenagers shoot up the school, ala Columbine, all without any given reason. That film won the Golden Palm and Best Director awards at the Cannes Film Festival. Although I was not a fan of the film at all, in fact I was disgusted by it, I have learned to understand why Van Sant chose to shoot his film the way he did; little or not plot, and no back story for the characters, and little audience interaction with the characters.

    Walkabout is somewhat similar to the style that Van Sant used in Elephant, and reportadley also in his films Gerry and Last Days, but it was done over 30 years prior. Its a beautiful film, told quite simply, over the course of an unkwown number of days. We get to know the characters, but not through back story, or by seeing them in their daily lives. The only thing we know about either one of them (the 14 year old girl and her six or seven year old brother) is that they are English living in Australia, and both attend prep-school...and even this is an assumption based on their language and uniforms, not on anything the film really tells us.

    The story, as told in every review, is about how the two are mystreriously brought to the outback by their father, who then tries to kill them, and then kills himself. They are close to death as they wander through the desert, until a young Aborigine boy of 16 sees them and essentially rescues them.

    One reviewer complains that nothing happens. I disagree, plenty happens.
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    Format: DVD
    A very unusual film for its time, Walkabout combines many themes in what is ostensibly a tale of survival in the Australian outback. I suppose it was a bit too racy for American audiences as Roeg focuses lovingly on a young nubile Jenny Augutter but that would be missing the point of this movie which contrasts the sterile life of a young British girl and boy with an Aborigine man-child.
    The film depicts the initial bleakness of the Australian desert which the two children find themselves thrust into after the father mysteriously chooses to commit suicide, but eventually shows the immense diversity of the outback as the young Aborigine leads the lost children back to civilization. Roeg uses a variety of cinematic techniques to paste together his poetic vision, ultimately developing the sexual tension between Agutter and the Aborigine, culminating in a fateful courting ritual which Agutter appears oblivious too. However, the star of the movie is the little boy, Luc Roeg, who forms a very special bond with the Aborigine.
    The film may be too much to handle for small children, but it is ideal for teenagers, as it will give them a very different experience from the run-of-the-mill teen movies that proliferate in the video stores. Don't fret over the R rating, as the nudity is fleeting and treated in a very respectful way. In Britain, the rating is 12 for young teenagers.
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    Format: DVD
    I saw this soon after it came out, and as an adolescent was utterly mesmerized by the story. With very little dialogue and virtually nothing explained, it was a profound experience of shocking loss, disorientation in a deadly yet beautiful environment, and finding one's way back. Accustomed to the pat formats of hollywood, I had never seen anything like it: little resolution, reflection, or overt lessons. Yet it stimulated a great dialogue with my father, who had insisted that I accompany him to it in the face of my adolescent unwillingness. Though I have not seen it since 1972, its images stuck with me as if in a dream.

    Now, nearly 40 years later, I bought it for my daughter, to nurture her interest in anthropology. I am happy to say that she was swept into it in the same way, wondering what it meant and wanting to learn more. What better success could there be for a film experience than that?

    The story begins in a normal city in AUstralia. A father takes his children to the outback for a picnic, and without explanation completely loses it, leaving them to fend for themselves in a land so alien that they have no idea how to survive. Trapped in an oasis that dries up without food, they are lucky to be found by a young aborigine, on his "walkabout" - a stay alone in the veldt to test his survival skills - and he brings them to a road. Apparently, in helping them, he violates the conditions of his walkabout, with terrible consequences.

    As a visual poem, the film has many sequences of silence or trivial dialogue, a cover for deeper meanings that the viewer must reflect upon later. The girl, Agutter, is shielding her brother from frightening realities, but it is the young brother who is the real focus of the story.
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    Format: DVD
    For some reasons I had reservations about seeing this film when I first heard about it; maybe because what I heard and the advertising I saw didn't begin to hint at its depth. Ostensibly its the story of two WASPs who get stranded in the Australian outback and meet an aborigine boy who helps them to surive their journey back to civilization. Most noticeably, for me, the movie criticizes the spiritual emptiness of civilized society and lets the viewer glimpse at some of uncharted territory's secret beauty. The movie works fine on this level. But its brilliance lies in how many different levels it does work, and its subtlety.
    It is a tragic story of two people who fail to communicate. The blindess of the girl (presented in quite a harsh light, and a symbolic big slap in the face to whitey now that I rethink it) despite huge language and cultural differences is inept or unwilling to understand the aborigine boy's perspective. Indeed she is deeply rooted in Anglo-Saxon values -- only the young boy, her companion, is able to break down the barrier and communicate simple ideas.
    There are points in the film that expose sexual tension as brilliantly and as subtley as I have ever seen. It is vastly important that the boy is not dramatized or stylized in any way, he seems really to have been picked out of the outback and cast directly in the movie. His behavior should seem at least somewhat bewildering to the audience, it was to me, particularly in the haunting mating dance scene. The girl rejects him out of a lack of understanding and fear, and he sheds tears of failure. Was sexual consumation a part of his walkabout or did he fall deeply for this girl. What are the cues to suggest the latter? I'd have to watch the movie again.
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