Color, 1971, 91m.
Directed by Nicolas Roeg
Starring Jenny Agutter, Luc Roeg, David Gumpilil, John Meillon
Criterion (DVD & Blu-Ray, US R0 NTSC/HD) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)

Abandoned in the Australian outback after their father goes mad and torches their vehicle during a sudden suicidal impulse, a teenage girl (Jenny Agutter) and her young brother (Luc Roeg) are left to their own devices to obtain food and shelter. Along the way they meet an Aborigine boy (Gumpilil) who is undergoing a walkabout, a tradition in which teenage boys must survive on their own in the wilderness as a rite of passage. The contrast in their customs becomes a tug of war between the youths as everything from communication to blossoming sexuality become far too much for their spirits to handle.

The second film in cinematographer-turned-director Nicolas Roeg's astonishing streak of five unbroken masterpieces in one decade (along with , and Bad Timing), this meditative study of innocence lost and the nature of civilization uses his familiar collage-inspired editing which draws visual associations between visual symbols and activities (animal butchering for food, in particular). The narrative itself is extremely simple, but Roeg keeps the film constantly exciting through breathtaking camerawork, unexpected flashbacks and fantasties which flutter by at unexpected intervals, and a surprising, melancholy final movement that forces the viewer to reevaluate everything that went before. John Barry's wistful score (which only really bursts into the film after the first third) adds the perfect lyrical accompaniment to the film, whose matter-of-fact presentation of animal death and underage nudity could have misfired terribly in clumsier hands. Not surprisingly, the radiant Agutter became a reliable, in-demand actress for decades after this film, while Gumpilil became a regular staple in numerous Australian films, most notably The Last Wave by Peter Weir (a director who owes a huge debt to the existence of Walkabout, as do many other Aussie titles).

Criterion first released Walkabout as one of their earliest DVD titles in a non-anamorphic transfer that drew plenty of fire at the time (along with Picnic at Hanging Rock), prompting the company to switch over to 16x9 fairly quickly. Their 2010 reissue on both Blu-Ray and DVD is a major upgrade in every department; apart from the opening text card and 20th Century-Fox logo derived from obviously lesser source material, the film looks fantastic with a far more accurate color scheme and a much more potent presentation of Roeg's intelligent manipulation of composition and light. Incidentally, this is still the longer international cut of the film, which was shorn of some stronger shots to obtain a PG rating in the United States. The same excellent audio commentary with Agutter and Roeg is carried over, with each delivering numerous revealing stories about the making of the film from its sometimes dense symbolism to Agutter's own state of mind and maturation process over the course of filming. Agutter and Luc Roeg also appear for new video interviews (shot in HD) recalling their experience on the film, while Gulpilil is represented with a nice, lengthy featurette, "Gulpilil- One Red Blood" (56 mins.), covering his unlikely discovery as an actor and major accomplishments over his decades of work. The original theatrical trailer is also included along with a substantial 27-page booklet including cast and crew notes along with an appraisal by writer Paul Ryan.

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