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Walkabout (1971)

GP | | Adventure, Drama | 1 July 1971 (USA)
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Two city-bred siblings are stranded in the Australian Outback, where they learn to survive with the aid of an Aboriginal boy on his "walkabout": a ritual separation from his tribe.

Director:

Nicolas Roeg

Writers:

Edward Bond (screenplay), Donald G. Payne (novel) (as James Vance Marshall)
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4,396 ( 890)
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jenny Agutter ... Girl
Luc Roeg ... White Boy (as Lucien John)
David Gulpilil ... Black Boy (as David Gumpilil)
John Meillon ... Father
Robert McDarra Robert McDarra ... Man (as Robert McDara)
Peter Carver Peter Carver ... No Hoper (as Pete Carver)
John Illingsworth John Illingsworth ... Husband
Hilary Bamberger Hilary Bamberger ... Woman
Barry Donnelly Barry Donnelly ... Australian Scientist
Noeline Brown Noeline Brown ... German Scientist (as Noelene Brown)
Carlo Manchini Carlo Manchini ... Italian Scientist
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Storyline

A privileged British family consisting of a mother, a geologist father and an adolescent daughter and son, live in Sydney, Australia. Out of circumstance, the siblings, not knowing exactly where they are, get stranded in the Outback by themselves while on a picnic. They only have with them the clothes on their backs - their school uniforms - some meagre rations of nonperishable food, a battery-powered transistor radio, the son's satchel primarily containing his toys, and a small piece of cloth they used as their picnic drop-cloth. While they walk through the Outback, sometimes looking as though near death, they come across an Australian boy who is on his walkabout, a rite of passage into manhood where he spends months on end on his own living off the land. Their largest problem is not being able to verbally communicate. The boy does help them to survive, but doesn't understand their need to return to civilization, which may or may not happen based on what the Australian boy ends up ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Just about the most different film you'll ever see See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | Australia

Language:

English | Aboriginal | Czech | French

Release Date:

1 July 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Longa Caminhada See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

AUD 1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1997 reissue) | (original)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastman Colour)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Luc Roeg was actually sun-burnt in the scene where the aboriginal boy treats his back by rubbing him with fat from a wild boar. Director Nicolas Roeg thought it would make a good scene for the film so he picked up the camera and shot it. See more »

Goofs

Jenny's stockings variously disappear and reappear with no continuity. It seems earlier scenes with her wearing them are intermingled with later scenes where she doesn't wear them. See more »

Quotes

Narrator: [last lines - from "Poem XL" by A.E. Housman's "A Shropshire Lad"] Into my heart an air that kills, From yon far country blows: What are those blue remembered hills, What spires, what farms are those? That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain, The happy highways where I went, And cannot come again.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening caption: In Australia, when an Aborigine man-child reaches sixteen, he is sent out into the land. For months he must live from it. Sleep on it. Eat of its fruit and flesh. Stay alive. Even if it means killing his fellow creatures. The Aborigines call it the WALKABOUT. This is the story of a "WALKABOUT". See more »

Alternate Versions

To receive a 'AA' (14 and over) UK cinema certificate the BBFC requested cuts to remove full frontal nude shots of the girl during the swimming scene. However the cuts were rescinded upon appeal and the film was released uncut. See more »

Connections

Featured in Gulpilil: Man of Two Worlds (1979) See more »

Soundtracks

Electronic Dance
By Billy Mitchell
See more »

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User Reviews

post colonial angst
2 November 2003 | by hellenicabellaSee all my reviews

I saw this movie because I saw "Rabbit Proof Fence" and wanted to see more films featuring David Gulpilil. He didn't disappoint in this film either - he has an incredible presence on screen.

This film comments on so many racial and cultural issues in Australia, and in a way that's so subtle that it unnerves you with you knowing why - I haven't read the book its based on, so I can't comment on whether it stems from there.

Two English kids (Jenny Agutter and Lucien John) are taken from their comfortable home in what seems to be Sydney (the harbour bridge is visible in one shot) and taken into outback South Australia by their father (John Meillon), and no explanation is made for this. (Outback SA is MILES away from Sydney, yet they still have their school uniforms on. Why?). The girls sets up a picnic, the boy plays with his water pistol, and suddenly their father starts shooting at them. They escape, and his voice calling after them is especially chilling, but when they don't materialise, he shoots himself and sets fire to the car. The girl knows, and keeps it from the boy. She gives him lemonade and tells him to look after his school blazer and shoes.

They're doomed from the beginning - no water, no way of finding their way home. They discover a water hole and fruit tree and camp there, but by morning, the fruit and water are gone - we can only assume its a metaphor for the way Australian settlers ruined their ecosystem. They are rescued from almost certain death by a young aboriginal man (David Gulpilil) on 'walkabout', a coming-of-age ritual. He appears to live a completely 'tribal' existence in that he walks mostly naked and hunts his own food, and can't speak english. The only one able to communicate with him is the english boy, because he's an innocent, not yet corrupted by civilisation as his sister has been.

The aboriginal boy leads them to eventual safely, and finds a friend in the other boy. The girl, however, treats the aboriginal boy like a servant and is afraid of him. When they reach safety, the boy dances a tribal dance for them and they don't understand why.

The scene where they last see the boy in the tree is especially chilling - the coldness of the girl, and her complete lack of sadness over it. Its as if she's happy to be safe and that's it, and the aboriginal boy has outlived his usefulness. Which is why the final scene, of the girl looking back at an innocent memory of the three of them swimming naked together, doesn't fit.

But, maybe civilisation and order is what we cling to in times of adversity, but when we're in it, its a cage.


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