Wake in Fright


Drama / Thriller


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August 06, 2016 at 06:49 AM



Donald Pleasence as Doc Tydon
John Meillon as Charlie
720p 1080p
777.28 MB
24 fps
1hr 48 min
P/S 4 / 25
1.63 GB
24 fps
1hr 48 min
P/S 6 / 39

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by ptb-8 8 / 10

too true, too true.

WAKE IN FRIGHT is also known Internationally as OUTBACK. Released to quite a furore in Oz in 1972, I saw it as a teenager and was not unshaken believing that it was all too true. The absolutely brutal sunbaked world of the inland 'scrub' is unflinchingly shown for every part of it's harsh reality. The bozo behavior of local men lubricated with endless alcohol and cruel boredom gets a mighty serve as well. A lot of media and tourist execs of the time were suitably outraged as were the conservative older establishment, and there were opposing films made to soften the blow (SUNSTRUCK, for example). However, WAKE IN FRIGHT is a major achievement as is Roeg's equally devastating WALKABOUT made around the same time. Recently THE TRACKER and RABBIT PROOF FENCE go into the same cinematic territory and deliver equally pungent views. WAKE IN FRIGHT will soon stand among the greats of Australian international cinema and rightfully so. A DVD release and a cinema reissue apparently is keenly awaited.

Reviewed by Coventry 9 / 10

Made In Australia

"Outback" is unlike any other film ever made and quite impossible to categorize. If the movie taught me anything at all, it's that the Aussies can drink seriously hard and loads of it. They even drink till they pass out and then immediately open another can when they come to their senses again. I thought only Belgians did that. You cannot possibly count the amount of beer cans and bottles that are consumed in this film and the most repeated line of text/monologue is without a doubt: "C'mon mate, let's have a drink then". Based on the novel by Kenneth Cook, "Outback" tells the story of a young school teacher visiting the little outback community of Bundanyabba, where the local population is so hospitable and acts so familiar it becomes truly disturbing. They fill their days with drinking, gambling, getting involved in bar fights, drinking again, kangaroo hunting and drinking some more. John initially disapproves their savage habits and looks somewhat down upon the villagers, but slowly and gradually he becomes one of them as he wastes his entire year salary on booze and primitive roulette games. "Outback" is very slow-paced and moody. Sometimes you can literally taste the copious amounts of liquor and experience the heat of the Aussie summer. The noticeable heat, together with the feeling pure geographical isolation truly makes the film disturbing and uncomfortable as hell. "Outback" works effectively as psychological drama but even more as the non-fictional portrait about a society that is largely unknown and unspoken of. The footage of the kangaroo hunting trip is haunting and very, very depressing. I was really relieved when, during the end credits, a message appeared on the screen to state that no real kangaroos were harmed during the production. The film mostly benefices from astonishingly mesmerizing photography, superb music and Ted Kotcheff's solid direction. The versatile and brilliant actor Donald Pleasance is even convincing as an Aussie drunkard and the rest of the relatively unknown cast delivers great performances as well. This is one of them unique movies you only encounter a couple of times in a lifetime, but it's incredibly obscure so if you find a copy treasure it. So mate … shall we have a beer then?

Reviewed by targosfan1 9 / 10

Kotcheff's walkabout

I had the great good fortune to obtain a ticket for a one-time-only screening of Wake In Fright (aka Outback) at the 2009 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival. I had heard of the film and read reviews of it, but it had receded from my memory before I noticed it in the festival program. Ted Kotcheff was known to me as the talented Canadian director of such artful Canadian films as The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974) and subversive Hollywood offerings like North Dallas Forty (1979) but I had not connected him to WIF.

The screening was part of TIFF's Discussions series, which features an extended, moderated Q&A after the film. I believe this one ran at least one hour, and was very informative and interesting. But first the film.

Briefly, school teacher John Grant (Gary Bond) is contracted by the government to teach in a one-room schoolhouse in Australia's primitive Outback. The school year ends and Grant thankfully boards the train for a six week summer vacation. But he loses all his money when drawn into a stupid gambling contest in the first settlement the train reaches. He is thus just as helpless and alone as any civilized man among dangerous savages (think The Naked Prey with drunk, horny rednecks chasing the titular hero.) Grant first meets the local lawman Jock Crawford (Chips Rafferty) who appears unconcerned with the pervasive drunkenness in his community. He insists they get sloshed together, and unwittingly leads him to the gamblers, who play a simple-minded game of heads or tails with two coins. Grant wins at first, but then loses it all. Destitute, he has no choice but to accept the sodden hospitality of the locals. We get the idea (via excellent acting by Mr. Bond) that the educated young man is not happy being at the mercy of these lower-class savages. But their brutish acting-out is partially accounted for (but NOT excused) by the scarcity of sex -- whatever each of these man-children desires, men or women, they just aren't getting enough! An excellent sequence in the film is the attempted seduction of Grant by Janette Hynes (Sylvia Kay), daughter of one of Grant's erstwhile "mates." Loneliness, desperation and sexual frustration are etched in her face, and she leads Grant out of a drunken party for a walk, intending to do the dirty literally in the dirt, but her intended vomits up one of the 1,000 or so beers he downs in the film. Her wretchedness as she flees sobbing back to her father's house is just devastating.

The most controversial scenes in the film were shot during actual kangaroo hunts, conducted at the time with no decent regulation, for the benefit of foreign pet food companies. Drunk as lords, the Aussie crew speed through the desert in a "Mad Max" hunting truck, shooting every poor 'roo they can find. In the grisly climax, Grant agrees to kill an animal with a knife and his bare hands.

Later, seriously alcoholic 'Doc' Tydon (the great Donald Pleasence, at the peak of his brilliance) sexually assaults the (finally) unconscious Grant in his filthy hovel. Grant "wakes in fright" to find the good Doc asleep on the floor, naked except for a woman's baby doll nightie. "Gay panic" ensues, and after an unsuccessful attempt to hitchhike out of the town, he returns to the cabin with his kangaroo rifle and confused intentions. (SPOILER) 'Doc' returns, but Grant turns the rifle on himself and fires. He awakes in a hospital bed, and signs a statement saying the shooting was an accident. He is discharged just in time to return to his school house.

At the Q&A we learned some interesting facts: The film was shot on location in a small Aussie town, and the bar, gambling hall, the Hynes ranch, the schoolhouse, etc. are real, and together with the stark cinematography impart a sense of one of those faintly recalled nightmares that seem like a true occurrence. Mr. Kotcheff told us he was aiming to create claustrophobia in wide-open spaces, and in my humble opinion he succeeded.

The 'roo hunt was filmed documentary-style at a real hunt. The filmmakers consulted with Australian anti-hunt groups who told them to go ahead, so that the Australian public could see the cruel slaughter for themselves. It's quite sickening -- the hunters amuse themselves by shooting to wound, then watching the bleeding animals jumping about in pain. The killings by knife were simulated, shot in a black-out tent to match the night-time of the documented hunt.

The film was well received by critics at Cannes (and the restored film was re-screened there this year), and the director remembers being told by his hosts that it was an important film for Australians, and that it could only have been made by an unbiased outsider. Its North American release (as Outback) was botched -- perhaps deliberately, since (I suppose) unfettered alcoholism + gay rape + graphic animal slaughter wasn't expected to sell well, even in the cinema's post-60's creative ferment.

Eventually, the film was forgotten and the master negatives misplaced. The film's editor spent two years on his own time and dime tracking it down. He found the reels in a Pittsburgh, PA warehouse, in containers marked for destruction. Restored, remastered and revived, it has met with accolades in Australia, at Cannes, and of course here at TIFF.

Needless to say, I am anxiously awaiting the DVD release!

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