John Grant, a teacher working in the remote Australian town of Tiboonda, is under a financial bond with his Government job. At the end of term before Christmas holidays, he plans to visit his girlfriend in Sydney. In order to catch a flight to Sydney, he takes a train to the nearby mining town called Bundanyabba (or "The Yabba"), and plans to stay there overnight before moving on further to the airport. But things go grossly out of script as he is engulfed by the Yabba and its disconcerting residents.Written by
This is John Grant, a handsome, intelligent, ambitious young schoolteacher. This is John Grant, an ugly, sweaty, desperate animal. What happened to John Grant? The Outback happened to John Grant. He went on holiday... and never came back. See more »
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 John first meets Doc in the steakhouse, Doc's beer can switches from hand to hand whilst he is drinking. 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, Sam, thank you.
Have a happy holiday, sir.
[shakes his hand]
And you, Chris. Thank you. Enjoy yourself.
[...] See more »
[Australian version] PRODUCERS' NOTE: The hunting scenes depicted in this film were taken during an actual kangaroo hunt by professional licensed hunters. For this reason and because the survival of the Australian kangaroo is seriously threatened, these scenes were shown uncut after consultation with the leading animal welfare organisations in Australia and the United Kingdom.
[International version] PRODUCERS' NOTE: Photography of the hunting scenes in this film took place during an actual kangaroo hunt conducted by licensed professional hunters. No kangaroos were killed expressly for this motion picture. Because the survival of the Australian kangaroo is seriously threatened these scenes were included with approval of leading animal welfare organisations in Australia and the United Kingdom. See more »
The international TV version that, until 2009, replaced the uncut Australian version in circulation, runs approximately 101 minutes (97 minutes on most copies due to NTSC to PAL conversion), roughly eight minutes shorter than the original. The changes are as follows:
When John awakens the morning after the two-up game, an alternate take of the scene is used: instead of being naked, he is wearing underpants.
When Janette is seducing John, the scene fades to black when she nuzzles her head against his groin and cuts to Doc's handstand. In the original, she then unbuttons her dress and kisses John, who drunkenly vomits; disappointed, she wipes his face and leads him back to the house.
The entirety of John's conversation with Doc outside his shack is missing.
The daytime kangaroo hunt lacks most of the brief scene in which Doc cuts off a kangaroo's testicles, and only shows the shot of Joe handing his knife to Doc before cutting to John's bemused close-up.
The night-time kangaroo hunt is severely truncated: only the first two kills are shown, and prior to the sequence in which Joe fights the one-eyed kangaroo, the sequence consists entirely of close-ups of the actors firing at the screen. Similarly, the shot of Joe slashing the kangaroo's throat and a lingering shot of kangaroo carcasses post-carnage are cut.
During the bush pub fight, Joe's line "You bastard!" is cut, as is Doc rising from his chair saying "You bloody bastards!"; Doc's further utterances of the phrase in this scene are cross-faded so that only the first vowel is heard.
After Doc grabs John by the neck during their post-hunt "tryst", the scene fades to white when the ceiling lamp swings toward the screen and cuts to the following morning, thereby eliminating Doc's suggestive mounting of John (curiously, the part of this scene featured during the montage of John's mental breakdown remain intact).
The following have been removed from the montage of John's mental breakdown: Doc spitting beer into Janette's mouth; Doc playfully slapping Janette; John breaking into a run; both shots of Doc having sex with Robyn. John Scott's music is cross-faded over the penultimate crescendo so that the final sting is still synchronized with the reversed shot of the two-up pennies over Doc's eyes, although much of Dick, Joe and the two-up patrons' howling laughter is eliminated as a result.
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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