Walkabout - Walkabout( Blu Ray & book set) [Seond Sight - 2020]Walkabout is one of the more visually devious & tonally unpredictable films of the 1970s. The film slips Ďní slides between grand natural awe, cruelty & brutality, dramatic adventure, unease & sleaze, fear, wonder, and longing. It sits somewhere between lost-in-wildness drama, heady-to-troubling travelogue, and coming of age tale- all wrapped up in often grimly arty touches, and liberal stabs at the treatment of indigenous people by the white man. Here on Second Sight is a new deluxe Blu Ray release of the film- bringing together a new commentary track & extras on the disc, three booklets, and a classy slipcase.
Released in 1971 Walkabout was the second film directed by British auteur Nicolas Roeg- Donít Look Now, Performance, The Man Who Fell To Earth- and itís most certainly a highly distinctive film that mangers to effortlessly flit between wonder & fear, innocent & sleaze, and life & death. The film was set and filmed in the southern Australian outback- with a breathtaking blend of awe inspiring-to- troubling nature footage, up-close & at times tense facial/ body shots, and moments of grand-to-dark/ troubling visual trippiness- it most certainly is an extremely brave & daring second film.
The film focus on a middle class brother & sister - an around ten-year-old boy( Luc Rogen), and his just on the edge of adult-hood sister(Jenny Agutter). The pair become stranded in the outback after their father dramatically kills himself. After some wondering & wearing from the environment, the pair come across a just turning adult aboriginal boy (David Gumpilil)- who appears dressed in just a dead lizard hung loin cloth & carrying a spear. He helps the pair with their aliments, slowly-but-surely leads them out of the wildness and develops two very different relationships with each of the bother and the sister.
The film features both a swirling-to-hovering formal stringed soundtrack by John Barry, a Rod Stewart track, more formally & rising choir music, didgeridoo recordings, and music from Karlheinz Stockhausen- so this both nicely enhances & builds Walkabout's often disorientating tonal shifts. The film cast, which largely revolves around the three leads, is spot-on- even the smaller roles are perfectly picked- and both Agutter and the young Rogen real act their socks off, as well as putting themselves psychical through the wringer of the beating sun & unpredictable Australian landscape. Due to Walkabout's unpredictability and shifting tone, itís certainly not a film for everyone- but you can say the same for any Rogenís most celebrated films- but thereís no doubt itís one of the more powerful, at times troubling & distinctive films of the 1970s.
Moving onto this new Blu Ray presentation of the film- and the print looks exceptional, itís a new 4 scan, and everything looks so clean, crisp, and defined. Yet it never comes across too digital or altered- so the quality of the 70ís stock is enhanced to it best, but never do we lose its quality and charm. Moving onto the extras, and first, off we get a new commentary track by actor Luc Roeg and film writer David Thompson- this finds the pair discussing walkabout's filming & how it very much brought together the whole Roeg family. Moving onto discuss the differences between the original 1967 book the film was based on, and the film it's self. Talking about the use of music, on-screen imagery & more- on the whole itís worthy if at times a little sporadic track, that does have more than a few moments of awkward/ dead silence- though itís most certainly worth a play or two. Next, we get a selection of stand-alone interviews- these each run between ten & eighteen minutes- there with the two main cast Rogen & Agutter, the films producer Si Litvinoff, and writer/ director Danny Boyle who discusses the importance of Rogen as a great director. We also get an around thirteen minute audio-only BFI Q&A from 2011 with Nicolas Roeg, Jenny Agutter, and Luc Roeg. Lastly, thereís a few minute intro from Nicolas Roeg.
The finished release is presented in a rigid slipcase which takes in new artwork of the three making their way through the outback. Inside. along with the disc, you get three booklets- the original novel the film was based on, a 65-page facsimile copy of the original First Draft Script with an intro, and a book featuring new essays, lobby cards, and film-related artwork- I canít comment on any of these as we were just sent a screener disc- but it all certainly sounds very impressive.
Once again Second Sight has done a splendidly classy release of this highly distinctive 1970ís film- with a top-notch new scan, worthy extras, and the great packaging.Roger Batty