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Wake in Fright
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Wake in Fright More at IMDbPro »

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

DVD release?

Author: Trevor from Sydney, Australia
28 November 2004

I have been wanting to see this film again for many years. Now that the negative has been recovered hopefully it will get a new lease of life, similar to the many other classic Australian films that have been re-released recently on DVD here in Australia. In a year (2003-4) when Australian films have fared poorly at the box office, particularly on a local level, it is worth looking back at a film like 'Wake in Fright' and understand that some of the best Australian films are the ones that look critically at life in Australia (in all its diversity) and at the mythologies that are generally perceived as representative of Australian national culture. In the case of 'Wake in Fright' it took a foreign director with a wonderful Australian cast to do that.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Urge you to check Aussie movie "Wake In Fright" (71) - a somewhat scary living nightmare..

8/10
Author: djhuckel from Australia
14 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I urge you to check out early Australian movie "Wake In Fright" (1971)! Just re-released after apparently being lost and now found and remastered, "Wake In Fright" follows the two day path trod by small town school teacher John Grant, This is not the path of heroes by a regular guy who loses his way into a somewhat scary living nightmare where John Grant (played by Gary Bond) gambles his money away & penniless spends the weekend in a (newfound) mates-sponsored drunken weekend oblivion. This which includes 'roo (kangaroo) shooting -Great scene! but maybe disturbing to some-, womanising, and more drinking(!), & spouting philosophy.

He can barely escape the Yabba... "Wake In Fright" stands the test of time & is an interesting insight into a perhaps too common subculture of Australia... Gritty, disturbing but still a strangely rewarding film...

His 'mates are played by Chips Rafferty (in his last movie) as town cop Jock Crawford – you gotta see him drink(!), Peter Whittle & Jack Thompson play Joe & Dick, a pair of archetypal yobs. Al Thomas plays Tim Hynes who takes the broke teacher in, Sylvia Kay plays his daughter Janette. Donald Pleasence plays the voice of reason to the movie, academically questioning all that is on show. But he too still loves a drink.

Other Aussie stalwarts of the movies' era are here too - John Meillon, John Armstrong and Slim DeGrey.

Canadian Ted Kotcheff (lately has directed & produced many episodes of TV show 'Law & Order') does a superb job directing "Wake In Fright." This was about his 15th work by 1971. Maybe its due to him not being from Australia that he is somehow able to draw out many nuances of the environment of the Yabba and the country like making you feel the heat & vastness of the Australian outback. Some critics think this is a fact, like Brit Nicholas Roeg did with "Walkabout." Too, you have to admire or be intrigued by the tagline of the movie, stereotyping the Aussie male yobbo (bogan, chav, jock, redneck) culture "Have a drink, mate? Have a fight, mate? Have some dust and sweat, mate? There's nothing else out here." It may stereotype the culture but it is an interesting microscopic look at itself simultaneously.

See it for being Auststralian, a good film, you like movies that might mess with your head, or a good hard look at a part of a culture. Lost in time? Seriously though, check it out.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Close to the bone!

9/10
Author: Shane from OZ from Australia
26 August 2006

I must preface this by saying I haven't seen this film for well over 20 years, on dodgy VHS, and it's a shame such a classic is not available on DVD. I read the book as a high school student and everything I feared about outback culture was here in black and white. I was taken in by unsubtle descriptiveness of the novel and I have to say, I was sceptical as to whether a film could possibly do justice to this great book. All I can say is the first viewing of this film blew me away. It far surpassed the book as the visual and audible elevated this to a whole new level. One can place themselves quite easily in John Grant's position and boy, is it uncomfortable! This is a gruelling and uneasy viewing experience much like the recent "The Proposition", it is a nightmare that envelopes one's senses, and the scariest thing is, this is not a fiction as such, these characters exist in the outback to this day and I imagine this film will never age. I felt repulsed and exhilarate at the same time, a testament to the acting and skillful camera work, editing and directing. In fact this could be a horror film. I can't wait to see this again, and as an Australian the cast includes so many legends that I feel proud that this film was made. A little sadness, because of the vintage of the film, many of the familiar faces are no longer with us. Their legacy, along with this film has stamped this as a true classic.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

One of the scariest movies I have ever seen

9/10
Author: lamya02108 from United States
16 March 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this movie shortly after it first came out in 1971. It played in a limited art house release.

It made a lasting impression - I wondered why it was not shown more often until I found out the negative was almost lost.

The movie is scary because it deals with the human weakness we all have. Donald Pleasance was about as creepy as he ever was. The only movies I can compare it to are The Lost Weekend and Leaving Los Vegas, but it is far superior because it follows the protagonist's descent from innocence into degradation. It also shows a side of Australia not well known in the USA.

The last scene, when the besotted teacher is welcomed back into the pub by his mates, was the most despairing ending I have ever seen in a movie.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A rugged and terrifying look at the harshness of the outback and the localized views of its people in 1970's Australia.

9/10
Author: beck-25 from Australia
15 June 1999

This is a movie that the first time you watch it you will walk away hating almost every aspect of it. Only on the second and third viewing did i begin to appreciate the hard message of the film. It gives viewers a glimpse into the harshness of the Australian outback, and the closed-minded views of the its people in the early 1970's. In the 'cultural cringe' era of Australia's history. This often extreme look it hard hitting and gritty, and will leave you felling exhausted and sweating, from the heat of the outback that oozes from it. The characters of the outback town called 'The Yabba' are simply disgusting, especially in contrast to city teacher, John Grant (Gary Bond). Also giving a mentionable performance is veteran actor Donald Pleasence, as alcoholic doctor, 'Doc' Tydon. Give this film a second chance, don't judge it by your first viewing, it is a film that can be hard to stomach.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

highly recommended

Author: thomas woolsey (crabturtle@yahoo.com)
30 August 2001

i first saw this in New York City in the early 1970's. it was one of the very few movies i have seen in my life that deserved a second viewing. for some reason i have always been fascinated by Australia. it just seemed to have animals and scenery that didn't exist anywhere else. another plus was that they spoke English there which is the only language i know. i did finally get to Australia in 1997 and it was every bit as fascinating as i had expected. this film is also fascinating although it paints a very dark and disturbing picture of the island continent. it is about a schoolteacher who for some reason becomes stranded in a tiny town in the remote outback. until he is able to leave he decides to socialize with the locals. they are a rough and tumble group unlike the teacher who is somewhat timid and sensitive. the main entertainment in this region is drinking, fighting and killing kangaroos. the latter scenes are the most disturbing with heads being blasted off the cute creature's bodies. sadly,it all ends tragically.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Margaret Reines: "Her Beauty and her Terror"

10/10
Author: margielove (margielove@live.com.au) from Australia
8 November 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'Wake in Fright' as many reviewers have alluded to - is a disturbing film.

For starters - I can attest to the fact that yes - it is not a fiction - there are places where people behave as they do in the film.

It is basically about how an educated man is drawn in to the horror of the world around him for the sake of conforming - and losing himself in the process.It is almost as if Australia itself is an alien entity - pulling/exerting this force on people who then become intertwined with the landscape - thus reflecting its barrenness/hardness. Dorothea McKellar wrote of the Australian landscape "its beauty and its terror".

I would draw a correlation with this film and 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' - whereby - as the straightlaced girls from the boarding school ascend the mountain - discarding some of their clothes (perhaps a representation of them discarding their identities)they as they all but one disappear -the same forces are mirrorred at play as the girls discard their colonial sensibilities and mores - they climb - becoming absorbed into the landscape - never to be seen again (all but one).

These films reflect how the individual is usurped, and drawn into the 'pack mentality' no matter how bizarre that may be.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Outback nightmare

10/10
Author: tomsview from Sydney, Australia
2 July 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Although based on a novel by an Australian, this brilliant film was directed by a Canadian, Ted Kotcheff, and it is very much an outsider's view, giving the movie extra bite.

It features a disturbing nighttime kangaroo hunt where the hunters use a spotlight to find their prey. Similarly, Kotcheff shone a spotlight on certain aspects of Australian culture at the time, making some Australians feel about as hunted as the hapless kangaroos in the film.

John Grant, a teacher at an outback school heads for Sydney to join his girlfriend for the Christmas holidays. In the novel Grant was Australian, in the movie he is played by Englishman Gary Bond – again the outsider point of view intensifies the observations. Grant travels by train to Bundanyabba, (The Yabba) to catch a plane to Sydney. But he gets no further. His life descends into a living hell, much of it of his own making.

Caught up in a culture of drinking and gambling he ends up in an alcoholic daze with no money. He is also trapped by the aggressive hospitality of the locals who lead him further and further into their brutal, and pointless lifestyle. Along the way he meets characters that foreshadow what his own future will be if he stays in this remote, male-orientated environment. Finally, he goes back to the school, a far wiser but no happier man.

Not your everyday movie this one with a cast seemingly inspired by the challenges. Gary Bond is perfect – he starts with a slight air of superiority and ends up a burnt-out survivor who has discovered inner truths he isn't particularly proud of. Veterans Donald Pleasence and Chips Rafferty play characters as repellent as they are fascinating.

Technically the film is near faultless, and British composer John Scott's vibrant score is hard to get out of your head.

The reasons why "Wake in Fright" wasn't taken to heart by Australian audiences when first released weren't necessarily the depictions of drinking, gambling, and drunken brawling. At the time this movie was made, many Australians probably wouldn't have minded being seen as a macho society where a bloke enjoyed a beer or three, and a bit of a punch-up from time to time. However the film had other insights that were more likely to hit a nerve.

Particularly cringe-worthy is the way the population of the Yabba constantly seek approval of the town and validation of their lifestyle, highlighting deep-seated insecurities.

However, the most uncomfortable sequence in the film for Australians brought up on the spirit of mateship, and belief that life in the outback defined the national character, would have to be when Donald Pleasence's character, Doc Tydon, sexually assaults the drunken, half-conscious John Grant. Homosexual rape in the Outback? No thank you. In 1971, this did not accord with the Australian self-image at all.

The revival of Australian cinema was still a few years away, and Australians preferred the more polished Hollywood product anyway. Although "Wake in Fright" was partly an American production, it looked like an Australian one with plenty of violence thrown in. Third-billed Chips Rafferty's name on the advertising would not have hooked them in either, despite the fact that his performance actually played against his familiar screen image.

Of course, the audiences that didn't go in 1971 missed a unique film that is now hailed as one of the best ever made in Australia. Despite the intervening 40 years, and an Australia less sensitive to criticism, it's observations and insights still resonate.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant

10/10
Author: animax-3 from Australia
31 December 2011

I only saw this film recently, but it brought back all kinds of memories of my year in Australia (1970-1971) when I worked in Darwin as a storeman and Cobram, a small town in Victoria, where I picked fruit. I both enjoyed and hated these experiences; the alcohol culture was dominant, as in the film, and, in Darwin, I was invited to a pig-shoot. Unlike the film's hero in the kangaroo-hunt, I declined. I returned to Australia permanently in 1977 and worked professionally till my retirement in capital cities and in one large provincial centre. The contrast to my earlier experiences, which were similar to those faced by John Grant, could not be greater. I think this could be the best Australian film I have ever seen.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Beer me

8/10
Author: bregund from San Francisco
26 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Bacchus himself would blush at the neverending river of alcohol flowing through this film, you have to see it to believe it, the characters open beers while they're already drinking beer, they have several open containers all over the place, they're always reaching for a beer, offering beer to their mates, pouring beer all over themselves, they wake up in the morning and have a beer. They even drink while they're drinking, watch the movie if you don't believe me. Their lips are never more than ten inches away from a beer.

When they're not drinking, they're gambling and torturing kangaroos; this is not a pleasant film, despite the presence of Donald Pleasance, whose character is unlike his last name. You want to see a drunken, shouting, bare-chested, joyriding, philosophisizing, kangaroo-eating, subtly malevolent Donald Pleasance, here he is. I guarantee that you've never seen him in any role like you see him here, I honestly think he's the best actor of the bunch, he completely blows away any impression you have of the mild-mannered prisoner-of-war from The Great Escape or the jittery, nervous doctor from The Fantastic Voyage. Watch him vanish into his role as he slowly erodes the morals of the lead character.

This film is a cautionary example of the lure of peer pressure as the main character, a schoolteacher, is drawn into the ugly, alcohol-fueled violence of an isolated town and nearly dies in the process. I find that really good Australian films are uniquely Australian, and this one is no exception.

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