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Wake in Fright is the story of John Grant, a bonded teacher who arrives in the rough outback mining town of Bundanyabba planning to stay overnight before catching the plane to Sydney. But his one night stretches to five and he plunges headlong toward his own destruction. When the alcohol-induced mist lifts, the educated John Grant is no more. Instead there is a self-loathing man in a desolate wasteland, dirty, red-eyed, sitting against a tree and looking at a rifle with one bullet left... Written by
"Outback" is unlike any other film ever made and quite impossible to categorize. If the movie taught me anything at all, it's that the Aussies can drink seriously hard and loads of it. They even drink till they pass out and then immediately open another can when they come to their senses again. I thought only Belgians did that. You cannot possibly count the amount of beer cans and bottles that are consumed in this film and the most repeated line of text/monologue is without a doubt: "C'mon mate, let's have a drink then". Based on the novel by Kenneth Cook, "Outback" tells the story of a young school teacher visiting the little outback community of Bundanyabba, where the local population is so hospitable and acts so familiar it becomes truly disturbing. They fill their days with drinking, gambling, getting involved in bar fights, drinking again, kangaroo hunting and drinking some more. John initially disapproves their savage habits and looks somewhat down upon the villagers, but slowly and gradually he becomes one of them as he wastes his entire year salary on booze and primitive roulette games. "Outback" is very slow-paced and moody. Sometimes you can literally taste the copious amounts of liquor and experience the heat of the Aussie summer. The noticeable heat, together with the feeling pure geographical isolation truly makes the film disturbing and uncomfortable as hell. "Outback" works effectively as psychological drama but even more as the non-fictional portrait about a society that is largely unknown and unspoken of. The footage of the kangaroo hunting trip is haunting and very, very depressing. I was really relieved when, during the end credits, a message appeared on the screen to state that no real kangaroos were harmed during the production. The film mostly benefices from astonishingly mesmerizing photography, superb music and Ted Kotcheff's solid direction. The versatile and brilliant actor Donald Pleasance is even convincing as an Aussie drunkard and the rest of the relatively unknown cast delivers great performances as well. This is one of them unique movies you only encounter a couple of times in a lifetime, but it's incredibly obscure so if you find a copy treasure it. So mate shall we have a beer then?
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