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It's 1922; somewhere in Australia. When a Native Australian man is accused of murdering a white woman, three white men (The Fanatic, The Follower and The Veteran) are given the mission of capturing him with the help of an experienced Native Australian (The Tracker). So they start their quest in the outback, not knowing that their inner wrestles against and for racism will be more dangerous that the actual hunting for the accused. Written by
If you've ever wondered why Aboriginal people in Australia want an official apology from the head of government, see this film. They haven't gotten one yet. Maybe later--time moves slowly for the oppressed. Economically savvy, rich conservatives will not want to hear an official State apology rendered. Why? Because, they believe that the "sorry" campaign is a ploy to hit the Austalian Federal Government with a plethora of expensive lawsuits. Rank and file social conservatives, who make up about 10% of the population, just think that Aboriginals should be happy that they've gotten citizenship in "the Lucky Country" and keep their mouths shut.
Each character in "The Tracker" is a metaphor for prevailing historically based and continuing attitudes between the indigenous people of Australia and European settlers. Not only that, but within the dialogues and actions in "The Tracker", one can see the still existing fundamental conflict between European legal traditions and those of peoples who settled Australia some 60,000 years ago. By the end of the film, one can discern the outlines of a lasting reconciliation in Australia based on mutual respect between human beings.
If your'e not already familiar, "The Tracker" will show you what most of the Australian interior looks like. It's hot, red, dry and largely empty. Yet, if you slow down and focus your eyes, there is much more to the land than you might have thought. A good tracker could show you how large a human footprint on this natural setting of the Earth can be. A good tracker can also show you the wisdom inherent in patience and respect.
David Gulpilil plays this tracker and he steals the movie. Rolf de Heer's writing and direction in this film is to be applauded. In fact, I have yet to see a bad film come out of Rolf de Heer's directing. His "Ten Canoes" should have won greater recognition in 2006. Gary Sweet as the racist fanatic was convincing. Overflowing with hypocritical Christian piety, Sweet made me feel sick to be identified as "white". You could almost hear him saying, "We had to kill the blacks in order to save them." Damon Gameau, as the follower, played his role with wooden innocence. Grant Page as the apolitical, amoral veteran was at his best after he took a spear. But, automatons are like that.
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