Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Tracks": a young woman's journey across the Australian outbreak, and she has company

The film “Tracks”, by John Curran, recounts the 1700 mile journey across the Australian outback in 1975 by Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska) with her black dog and four camels, for a magazine article.  She is hardly alone, as she meets up with a huge variety of Aborigine peoples, and is followed by a “boyfriend” photographer Rick Smolan (Adam Driver), who creates a real presence with his lean body, specs, and quirky but energetic manner.
I’ve always thought of Australia as a distorted copy of the US, with deserts in the west but without the high mountains.  In fact, the western part of the continent has only a few modest ridges, some of them cut up by surface mining. The journey starts in Alice Springs, in the “Midwest”, although it’s near Ayer’s Rock, as important a feature as any in the content.  Robyn shows her street smarts, gets odd jobs (parlty for barter), camps out, and procures her camels (Australia has more wild camels than any other country because of breeding after imports).  It’s a bit of a surprise that it takes 29 days to get to Ayer’s Rock.

Seeing this wide screen movie is a way to see the outback without an expensive trip.  But actually most of the film was shot in South Australia. The outdoor scenery is rather consistent scrub (like west Texas) with just some occasional low mountains. 

The dog and camels are major characters in the film, but the dog may come to an unfortunate end. Robyn says her motive is to be alone for a while. Robyn apparently had no intention to write about the journey in the beginning, but it wound up as a big National Geographic Article.  She also wrote a book (same title as the film) on the journey.  She would later have a relationship with Salman Rushdie. 

True, in the outback, she doesn’t get to shave her legs. 

The official site is here (TWC and E-One). 

Wikipedia attribution link for road map of Western Australia  

I saw this film before a fair Tuesday night crowd (reduced prices) at the AMC Shirlington in Arlington.
One could compare the film to Peter Weir's "The Last Wave" (1977). (see my "cf" blog, Oct. 25, 2011).  Another comparison would be Nicholas Roeg's "Walkabout" (1971). 
“Tracks” was also the name of a famous gay disco in Washington DC in the 1990s.  I wonder if there 

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