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Walkabout

Nicolas Roeg
UK, Australia 1971 / 96’
Performance Don’t Look Now

The film's title refers to an Aboriginal initiation ritual, whereby 13-year-old boys are sent into the bush, where they have to survive on their own for several months. In Roeg's film, white children are also forced to survive in the wilderness. A boy and his older sister would not survive, however, without the help of a young Aborigine who was in the middle of a walkabout. Nature is an equally important character in the film: the fantastic cinematography provides intense imagery, and the soundtrack reveals the resounding dialogue of mysterious creatures. The raw beauty of the bush paints an existential on-screen commentary: growing up, we discover that the world, while fascinating, is constantly placing us in danger. The indifference of nature, occupied with its own survival, does not promise any discount fares or help of any kind. The obliging young Aborigine is not rewarded; cultural and class boundaries prove to be impossible to cross, generating a tragic misunderstanding. Even in complete freedom, we remain prisoners of our upbringing, which teaches us how to survive: using our skills or using those who have the skills we need. The director's son, Luc Roeg, appears in the role of the seven-year-old boy, who doesn't get rid of his school uniform until the very end.

Małgorzata Sadowska

Nicolas Roeg

Born in 1928, Nicolas Roeg is one of Britain's most original filmmakers: a director with passion who tears down the order of the classical narrative, a master of editing and an outstanding stylist. Probing with his camera deep into our obsessions, tormenting memories, unhealed collective and individual wounds and sexual fantasies, he broke down the on-screen division between past and present, proving - in a particularly brilliant way - that cinema is a time capsule. While struggling for years with rejection and being misunderstood, Roeg consistently followed the path of an outsider, not only setting his films outside Great Britain (in Australia, the Seychelles, Vienna), but also happily working with artists associated with counter-cultural rebellion (David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Art Garfunkel). Films that came to be appreciated a bit too late, such as PerformanceDon't Look Now, WalkaboutThe Man Who Fell to Earth and Bad Timing, are iconic works: visually stunning, engaging, provocative fairy tales for adults.

Selected filmography

1970 Performance

1971 Walkabout

1973 Nie oglądaj się teraz / Don’t Look Now

1976 Człowiek, który spadł na ziemię / The Man Who Fell to Earth

1980 Zmysłowa obsesja / Bad Timing

1983 Eureka

1985 Z przymrużeniem oka / Insignificance

1988 Tor 29 / Track 29

1990 Wiedźmy / Witches

Cast & Crew

director Nicolas Roeg
screenplay Edward Bond (based on James Vance Marshall's novel)
cinematography Nicolas Roeg
editing Antony Gibbs, Alan Pattillo
music John Barry
cast Jenny Agutter, Luc Roeg, David Gulpilil
producer Si Litvinoff
production Max L. Raab – Si Litvinoff Production
sales Screenbound
language English
colouration colour