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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
As far as Western films go, the Tracker is nothing groundbreaking or particularly accomplished. I'd compare it to Anthony Mann's Naked Spur, another beautiful looking wilderness bounty-hunter film with a primary interest in psychological tension between morally ambiguous characters. Like Naked Spur, there is a trickster figure, an innocent, a veteran trailblazer, and a sadistic military figure. There is plenty of intrigue between characters as new situations arise, but The Tracker lacks the complexity of the screenplay thanks to the director's political heavy-handedness. Gary Sweet's character is not convincing or particularly well developed, as his simplistically evil nature makes him highly predictable and almost comedic. While I enjoyed the music on its own merits, I agree with another commenter that it leaves little room for the viewer to come to his own conclusions about the characters.
On the other hand, there are some great moments, such as the Tracker's improvised trial of the Fanatic, which causes one question how capital punishment becomes perceived as legitimate. The Tracker's adoption of white traditions and religious rites causes us to view him differently than we would otherwise. The circumstances of the Fanatic's dependence upon the Tracker and the Tracker's dependence upon the mercy of the Fanatic create an intrigue that is again reminiscent of the Naked Spur. Aided by the beautiful scenery of the outback, the cinematography is very nice, and the editing is distinctive as the film maintains a slower pace with spacious musical and visual interludes that are sometimes kitschy but occasionally effective. Overall, this was I film that I thoroughly enjoyed, even if the screenplay wasn't as powerful as I had hoped.
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