Walkabout / The Greatest Cherry Rip-off

Walkabout  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseThis superb film effortlessly combines outstanding performances, stunning images and spectacular photography, top create a hypnotic and symbolic masterpiece.  As the title suggests, “Walkabout” is a journey not only in distance, but also in the transition for one Australian Aborigine, from adolescence to manhood.  While on a family picnic a beautiful teenager and her brother suddenly find themselves very much alone after the tragic death of their father.  As they wander through the outback they meet the young Aborigine.  The film unfolds and tells the tale of survival, resourcefulness and sexual awareness, as the travellers become lost in the Australian wilderness.

1971  –  Certificate: 12  –  Australian Film

6.0 out of 10

There’s been a lot in the news over the past few days about a suspected al-Qaeda attack in the Arabian Peninsula.  Well last week I uncovered an equally devious plot to undermine the very core of the English nation, cause widespread civil unrest and consequently destroy the very fabric of our society.  Eschewing the need for a dirty bomb hidden in someone’s underpants, this evil and nefarious scheme uses our very own, wonderful, home-grown fruit against us, specifically cherries.  Just think about cherries for a moment.  They’re lovely, aren’t they?  The look nice, taste great and we can grow them in England.  In fact the Wild Cherry (Prunus avium) is one of our native trees.  They’re as English as St. George; (well probably more so than he was.)  Every day I walk beneath one on my way to and from work and glance up longingly into the high branches above to see the fruit teasingly hanging there, just out of reach.  Cherries are really romantic too.  Not only are they slightly heart-shaped (it’s called an artistic licence), but they normally come joined together, two sharing a single stalk.  What other fruit so accurately reflects the hearts of two lovers, growing and maturing together, forever closely entwined?  Last week I had to drive to Hastings.  All along the A21 in East Sussex, there were signs by the side of the road with giant drawings of romantic cherries on them, swiftly followed by what appeared to be people sitting in lay-bys or gaps at the side of the road, their car boots open, adjacent to tables covered in delicious, locally grown cherries.  I decided right there and then that on my way home I’d stop and buy some of these edible gems.  On my return I missed the first couple of cherry-sellers, as they were either on the other side of the road, or it wasn’t obvious where to pull in until it was too late to do so.  The other motorists on the road seemed more interested in driving as far up my ass as they possibly could, than buying cherries.  Any unexpected breaking on my part was likely to result in whoever was driving behind me ending up sitting in my back seat, along with the remains of their car.  Finally I managed to pull into a lay-by, salivating at the thought of getting my hands on some ripe, fruity cherries.  So you can imagine my horror on finding there was no one there selling anything.  The big cherries for sale sign was there but of anyone selling anything, there was no sign.  I was pretty devastated.  So I drove on and to my delight soon came across another sign promising an overdose of yummyness.  Guess what?  Exactly the same thing; no cherries.  It was hard to hold back the tears on the drive home after that.  I ended up taking out my anger on life by stopping for some chips instead and causing a satisfyingly long-tail back as a result of my top-notch parking.  But I can’t helping thinking there’s more than meets the eye to this sudden cherry famine.  Like cherries, this film is also about something very English, although in this case they don’t fit in to their environment at all.

In the same way that a cute baby in a pram can turn rational, intelligent adults into goo-goo-ga-ga uttering imbeciles, this movie seems to have the ability to turn similar people into fawning, complement-gushing Walkabout-sycophants.  I’m sorry, but the plot really doesn’t make any sense.  Jenny Agutter and the director/writer’s son get stranded in the Outback, meet up with an Aboriginal boy and then try to get back home.  Now, I’d be the first to admit that seeing Jenny Agutter all messed up by days and days of walking about in the hot sun with next to no food and water would be a little distressing, but with the exception of one brief interlude, she and her clothes managed to remain looking pristine throughout.  I’ve walked about in the sun for a few days and you get knackered and really grubby.  The movie did feature a lot of wildlife, (even though a great deal of it was very dead); I kept expecting David Attenborough to turn up and give them all a lift home.  There aren’t many Certificate 12 films you can watch and see an attractive 16-year-old girl take off her school uniform, get naked and go swimming in, either.  Oh, did I mention I once shook Jenny Agutter’s hand and at the time she was congratulating me for something?  I haven’t washed that hand since.  I’m probably being a bit mean about things.  There is a lot of good stuff and symbolism in this film; and it was made in 1971, so you need to give it the sort of understanding you sometimes need to give to older people.  And really, I’m just trying to correct the imbalance in the universe’s yin and yang that all the praise it’s had has caused.

The music used is atmospheric but a bit screechy.  When you realise it was mostly written by John Barry, it suddenly becomes a bit of a disappointment.

Recommended for geologists, English schoolgirls and young Aborigines.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  I know it’s a puerile, creepy and incredibly immature comment, which I wholeheartedly apologise for right now, but Jenny Agutter nude?  Learning the straw in the muddy puddle trick was pretty cool too; I’m just not sure I’d trust it to work in lowland England; too much cow piss.

Walkabout at IMDB (7.6 / 10)

Walkabout at Wikipedia

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