41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
A restored masterpiece,
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This review is from: Wake in Fright [Region 4] (DVD)
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.