Walkabout Movie Poster Image

Walkabout

(i)

 

Disturbing, arty survival film best for adults, older teens.
  • Review Date: November 19, 2009
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1971
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The film's messages are up to interpretation, but seem generally to be a critique of modern culture and discrimination.

Positive role models

The teen girl shows amazing resilience in the face of tragedy and takes good care of her younger brother. The Aboriginal teen helps the siblings through a crisis.

Violence

One particularly violent and disturbing scene near the beginning where a father shoots at his two children and then sets his car and himself on fire. One later scene shows a main character hanged. Several gruesome animal deaths.

Sex

Full-frontal female nudity in bathing or swimming scenes -- mildly erotic, but non-sexual. Aboriginal teen wears front-piece, but buttocks are exposed. One brief scene of Aboriginal group shows all ages nude, but non-sexual and from a distance. One short scene where men are looking down woman's shirt.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Brief smoking by father and by teen girl after she's an adult.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this visually-rich drama from 1971 contains some extremely disturbing scenes, including a father shooting at his children and a hanging. Young viewers might be disturbed by the teen girl and young boy's lengthy struggle to survive alone in the Australian outback. Several hunting scenes include animals being killed, gutted, and cooked, with lingering close-ups of carcasses and maggots. The teen girl often appears in her bra, sometimes in her underwear, and a couple times appears topless and nude. These scenes are not explicitly sexual, but some are mildly erotic.

What's the story?

After an Australian teen girl and her young brother are abandoned by their violent father they must find their way home through the beautiful and desolate Outback. The siblings show startling resilience and strength as they suffer from hunger, thirst, exhaustion, and oddly-detached emotions. On the brink of death, the duo meets an Aboriginal teen who helps them survive through hunting and foraging. As the group gets closer to formal civilization, the trio splits in a disturbing series of events meant to comment on the contrasts between Western and traditional cultures, as well as the loss of innocence.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

The film is full of gorgeous images, fascinating soundscapes, and quietly disturbing scenes that create an evocative and powerful piece of art and commentary. The contrasts between the natural and the urban and the Western and Aboriginal are provocative, critiquing modern culture in a way that's both subtle and stark. The characters are barely developed, and yet their performances are strong. All the positives outweigh some of the odd art-film elements that seem outdated at times, or just misplaced. Sometimes it's hard to understand the young boy, in part because of his accent, which detracts from the overall impact of certain scenes.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about survival. What did the teen girl and young boy have to do in order to survive? Were you surprised by anything they did or by how they acted? How did their methods of survival differ from the Aboriginal teen?

  • Talk about cultural differences. How did the film portray the contrast between the urban and nature-based cultures? What message did you get from the film, and was it different from what you think the filmmakers intended?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 1, 1971
DVD release date:May 6, 1998
Cast:David Gulpilil, Jenny Agutter, Luc Roeg
Director:Nicolas Roeg
Studio:Criterion Collection
Genre:Drama
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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What parents and kids say

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Educator and Parent of a 12 year old Written bykkurcisk February 15, 2012

Artistic survival story

This is a memorable film, and well worth the time investment to watch with your older kids. I first saw it in a high school English class, but sought it out to watch with my son when he was a teenager. The film powerfully communicates themes of optimism (not giving up), self-reliance, and our common fellowship with other people. It's not so much critical of "modern culture" as of the potential for dehumanization in urban life. We clearly see how impossible it is to be a cog in the machine when you're wandering the outback. There is relatively little dialog; the film relies heavily on visual storytelling, and the cinematography is spectacular. This is a film to watch attentively and discuss - it's not a Friday night popcorn kind of film. Unless you take your Friday night films seriously.
Kid, 10 years old June 20, 2015

A bit disturbing

The plot was interesting. My father and I were confused because it's a bit fuzzy, meaning you don't know what's happening sometimes. The movie is *graphic* and a bit disturbing, considering the images of rotten camels, things getting eaten by worms\flies. It's... photographic, that's why I like it so much. It stops and shows you *moving pictures*. I don't really know how to explain. Violence: A man commits suicide (meh...). Bulls are shoot in a scene. Other animals getting killed. Sex: None. Still, nudity is shown. A naked girl is shown soaking in a [beautiful] pond. She gets up and the genital area is shown, but it's covered in pubic hair. Women are seen bare-breasted. And a glimpse of a man's penis in the water (not really seen). Butts are [clears throat] metaphorically everywhere. I would say a mature 12-year-old could see Walkabout. Although it is rated R, if he\she is okay with nudity and disturbing images, it's okay. It's fun to see this movie with Tracks, another Australian desert crossing movie that's also okay for 12 year olds (and maybe 10 year olds. Yours, Chincerinchee
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Kid, 12 years old July 1, 2013

Bad

Strong nudity, strong language, strong violence, strong sex, strong gore, strong drugs.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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