Friday, 24 May 2013

"Wake in Fright" 1971 An Australian classic movie few have seen.

I first saw this film as a teenager in 1971. I remember the kangaroo shooting scene was quite confronting. Lots of men behaving badly. This is a film, once seen, will never be forgotten. It is rarely on television.
Called "Outback" in the U.S, it was adapted from the kickass Kenneth Cook novel, "Wake in Fright" (1961).
This movie is about the ugly side of Australia. Mateship gone feral. Think Crocodile Dundee meets "Wolf Creek". Set in Broken Hill, but don't expect the Broken Hill of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert". A horrific "fish out of water" story about a young English school teacher stuck in a country town.
The Australian film industry (thanks to government subsidies) was going through a  rebirth in the early 1970's. Strange that two of the seminal films of the era (both about inland Australia) were directed by foreigners. This film was directed by Canadian, Ted Kotcheff (his biggest movie was "Rambo, First Blood"). In the same year you had the cult movie "Walkabout" by Englishman, Nicholas Roeg ("Don't Look Now", "The Man Who Fell To Earth").

Bear in mind about 85% of Australians live around the coast in urban areas. The outback is a strange and unwelcoming place. Some fear it. This makes "Wake in Fright" all the more powerful.
"Wake in Fright" stars newcomer Gary Bond, horror/villain actor Donald Pleasence (he is stunning in this), Jack Thompson (at the start of his career) and ocker icon Chips Rafferty (his final, and finest movie).
In 2009 it was digitally remastered. The original editor was used. Original reels were found rusting in a U.S. store room. The Australian National Film and Sound Archives are custodians of this masterpiece.
Watch the entire restored film on You Tube. 
A gift from Australia.

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