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
John Grant's comments about moonlight - "like snow on the desert's dusty face" - is taken from 'The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam', Quatrain 14. See more »
When the vocalist for the band at the RSL club is heard singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", he is not actually singing in the first shot. See more »
[checks his watch]
Alright, off you go.
[children clamour as they leave the classroom]
Happy Christmas, teacher!
Happy new year.
Thank you, Dave.
Give my love to your girlfriend in Sydney, sir.
I'll do that, sir, thank you.
Have a happy holiday, sir.
[shakes his hand]
And you, Chris. Thank you. Enjoy yourself.
[...] See more »
Opening credits: All characters and events depicted in this film are fictitious. Any similarity to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. See more »
Yet another first-class film made in Australia by foreigners (a Canadian director working for a British studio), during the long period from World War II to the early 1970s when Australian cinema lay fallow. Like many other good ones - "The Overlanders" (1946), "They're a Weird Mob" (1966), "Age of Consent" (1969), "Walkabout" (1971) - although "Walkabout" is more seriously flawed than the others I've named - it doesn't feel like a foreign film; it feels as if the director made an honest attempt to be Australian, and succeeded. It's interesting that all these films are British. American films shot in Australia during the same period are, without qualification, American films; one scarcely even notices that "On the Beach" was shot in Melbourne rather than, say, Capetown or Tierra del Fuego, however many trams and banksias there may be.
The central character is clearly English; just as clearly, he doesn't like Australia. But I suspect that even in 1971 a greater proportion of Australians would have felt themselves to have been trapped in Hell if they'd been in his circumstances, than English. A greater proportion of Australians, then as now, live in cities, and the outback is further away from over 90% of Australians than anything is from anyone in England.
It's interesting that this fellow should be so RIGHT about everything (The Yabba IS a "bloody terrible" place, the hospitality he encounters DOES border on aggression, the game of two-up IS about as simple-minded and dull as it's possible for a game of chance to be), and yet be such an unsympathetic, unimaginative prig with scarcely more insight than he has backbone. He always needs a local to tell him what's going on and even then he doesn't get it. Yet we follow him with fascination and real concern all the same.
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