4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Grindhouse Movie Reviews: Walkabout, Roeg's 1971 Acid/Aboriginal Trip

The IMDB description for Nicolas Roeg's 1971 tripfest Walkabout is deceptively simple:

Image "Two young children are stranded in the Australian outback and are forced to cope on their own. They meet an Aborigine on 'walkabout,' a ritualistic separation from his tribe."

Image Only a brief glimpse is seen of the two British children (future Logan's Run hottie Jenny Agutter and Roeg's son Luc) and their idyllic lives BEFORE they become stranded in the wilderness. Their unlikely ordeal comes courtesy of their uptight and veddy propah British Daddy, who tells them they're going on a picnic, only to go instead all Christopher Lee on 'em, attempting to kill the kids AND himself, for reasons never really articulated.

When Angry Dad only succeeds in killing himself (and their family auto, which he torches), the young siblings — who are never named — beat feet for the outlands of the outback, apparently too dense to follow the road they arrived on (or perhaps they're simply scared another wack-a-doodle Englishman will attempt to kill them).

The lack of explanatory exposition keeps the ensuing puzzle from every fully matching all its pieces together, much like Roeg's other midnight movie tripfests like The Man Who Fell to Earth, with David Bowie.

Big Sis, who's around 15, never really talks to Little Bro about what happened with their dad. The boy chatters constantly as they walk further and further into oblivion, but she rarely seems to notice what he's saying, let alone offer cogent replies, her icy aloofness from the world around her not even cracked by the relentless desert sun and their increasing thirst and hunger.

(The unending prattle from Roeg's son got on my nerves, but then again he had 80 percent of all the dialogue in the movie, so it's hard to really fault him; all told, he's quite good in his role).

The fact that Big Sis insists they keep wearing their Sunday picnic clothes underscores her utter refusal to accept just how far behind they've left the world they know.

Image

When the Aborigine boy saves them by sharing his own survival tips and then inviting them to join his spiritual walkabout, the siblings at first have trouble understanding his actions, let alone his language.

Image

However, in short order, Little Bro seems to establish a growing, if rudimentary, rapport with the wild child, something that Big Sis can't seem to pull off with either of her male companions, English-speaking or no.

I wasn't expecting Walkabout to grab me so much, but it was just so "of its era" — and so flippin' weird! I ended up watching it twice in the same week.

Image

Why DID the guy want to drive his kids to the outback, kill them, and commit suicide? One of the IMDB reviews speculated that he was ashamed over lusting after his daughter: the same reviewer seems to think the whole movie is about the pretty emotionless girl causing everyone around her to lust and, as a result, suffer tragedy.

The IMDB review crew mostly misses the quick scene where the black boy splits off a few dozen yards from the siblings, just out of their view when he talks to a woman at a sort of outdoor flea market on the other side of the hill. Whites seem to be hiring Aborigines for demeaning work, while Big Sis and Little Bro are walking close by, oblivious and unaware that they're only a few dozen yards from so-called civilization.

So, why doesn't the black boy lead the kids to the flea market? Is it because he doesn't want to lose the girl? Or because he thinks they're now a vital part of his mystical "walkabout," his coming of age ritual?

That one brief scene indicates the black boy is either VERY devout or else VERY devious, wanting the girl all to himself.

Image

Eventually (SPOILER ALERT: yeah, the movie's over 40 years old, but I only recently saw the thing, so maybe you haven't seen it?) Big Sis and Little Bro do make their way back to the edge of civilization, though not without still more tragedy (the most horrific of which barely seems to register as a blip on Big Sis's emotional radar, even when it's clear that her cold detachment is the CAUSE of what happened).

The thing almost everyone on IMDB seems to miss is that final flashback Big Sis has in her suburban kitchen. Years later, while her oh-so-veddy propah husband (recalling her murder/suicide-minded dad?) babbles on about some business deal or other he just closed at work, Big Sis stares off, over his shoulder, and thinks about that long-ago walkabout...

Image

(MORE SPOILER) She seems to wistfully recall bathing nude in a majestic waterfall-fed pond, with the black boy and her brother.

BUT: that never happened! In the waterfall scene, as seen earlier in the film, she swam ALONE, far too uptight to let the black boy, let alone her brother, come anywhere near.

And yet her adult fantasy is about having taken the nude swim WITH her faux outback family. Everybody all nude and relaxed, with no "civilized" uptightness. Black boy, Little Bro, Big Sis, all nude and carefree.

The world she COULD have possibly had. At least in her (oh-so-regretful) fantasies.

Quite a thought-provoking little movie!

Image



Previous Grindhouse Movie Reviews/Seen on DVD columns:

Image "Black Caesar (1973) and Cover Me Babe (1970)" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Donnie Darko Sequel Doesn’t Deserve Bad Rap" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Queen of the Damned: Anne Rice Offshoot Doesn't Deserve Bad Rap" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Cult Movie Review: Forbidden Zone (1982)" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Cult Movie Reviews: Andy Warhol's Bad & The Sentinel" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Movies Shot in San Diego: Wicked Wicked (1973)" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Movies Shot in San Diego: A Force of One (1979)" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Phantom of the Paradise and the Day the Ken Cinema Made Cult Movie History" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Velvet Goldmine Channels '70s Glam and Oscar Wilde" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "They’re Rebooting the Crow?! 4 Remakes Good as (or Better) Than the Originals" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Wonderwall w/ George Harrison: Lost 1968 Psychedelic Gem" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Iron Man vs Watchmen" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Pan's Labyrinth vs. The Devil's Backbone" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "John Waters Newbie Screens a Waters Marathon" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "We Asked 25 Local Celebs What's Your Favorite Twilight Zone?" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "What Do YOU Think? Does the Walking Dead Stink, Or ?" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Dateline: May 1959 - Elvis Movie Causes Mexican Riot" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Local Celebs Who LOVE Star Wars!" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Former Local Co-Creating Newest Star Trek Adventures" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image
"Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: Local Wrote the Book (& Upcoming DVD Extras)" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Punk Rock Dads Docu: Blink, Red Hot Chili, Pennywise, more" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Local Drummer Featured in New Documentary" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Local Singer & Ramona Footage in Quiet Riot Documentary Film" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Why Porn Movies Deserve To Die Out" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "American Artifact Documentary DVD Celebrates Concert Poster Art" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "DVD Documentary Features Local Cult Star Gary Wilson" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Locally Shot Transvestite Documentary on DVD" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...



RELATED ARTICLES:

ImageImage

"Field Of Screens" -- Cover story 7-6-06: Complete theater-by-theater history of San Diego drive-ins thru the years, including interviews with operators and attendees, dozens of rare and unpublished photos, vintage local theater ads, and more. http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image

"Do You Remember: The Midway Drive-in" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image

"Before It Was The Gaslamp: Balboa’s Last Stand" -- Cover story 6-21-07: In the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, I worked at downtown San Diego's grindhouse all-night movie theaters. This detailed feature recalls those dayz, the death of the Balboa Theatre, etc., including interviews with operators, vintage local movie ads, and more. http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Pussycat Theaters: When 'Cathouses Ruled California" -- for the first time, the inside story of the west coast Pussycat Theater chain of adult moviehouses, which peaked in the '70s but later died out. Company head Vince Miranda owned and lived part time at the Hotel San Diego, operating several other local theaters downtown and in Oceanside, Escondido, etc. Told by those who actually ran the theaters, with a complete theater-by-theater encyclopedia covering every Pussycat that ever screened in CA -- http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Biden orders resumption of “border barrier” construction, “to protect vulnerable immigrants.”

Safety First
Next Article

Lobbyist deletes Bry-tied anti-short term rental client

Influence peddler run by ex-city councilman Madaffer meets with city's Jay Goldstone

The IMDB description for Nicolas Roeg's 1971 tripfest Walkabout is deceptively simple:

Image "Two young children are stranded in the Australian outback and are forced to cope on their own. They meet an Aborigine on 'walkabout,' a ritualistic separation from his tribe."

Image Only a brief glimpse is seen of the two British children (future Logan's Run hottie Jenny Agutter and Roeg's son Luc) and their idyllic lives BEFORE they become stranded in the wilderness. Their unlikely ordeal comes courtesy of their uptight and veddy propah British Daddy, who tells them they're going on a picnic, only to go instead all Christopher Lee on 'em, attempting to kill the kids AND himself, for reasons never really articulated.

When Angry Dad only succeeds in killing himself (and their family auto, which he torches), the young siblings — who are never named — beat feet for the outlands of the outback, apparently too dense to follow the road they arrived on (or perhaps they're simply scared another wack-a-doodle Englishman will attempt to kill them).

The lack of explanatory exposition keeps the ensuing puzzle from every fully matching all its pieces together, much like Roeg's other midnight movie tripfests like The Man Who Fell to Earth, with David Bowie.

Big Sis, who's around 15, never really talks to Little Bro about what happened with their dad. The boy chatters constantly as they walk further and further into oblivion, but she rarely seems to notice what he's saying, let alone offer cogent replies, her icy aloofness from the world around her not even cracked by the relentless desert sun and their increasing thirst and hunger.

(The unending prattle from Roeg's son got on my nerves, but then again he had 80 percent of all the dialogue in the movie, so it's hard to really fault him; all told, he's quite good in his role).

The fact that Big Sis insists they keep wearing their Sunday picnic clothes underscores her utter refusal to accept just how far behind they've left the world they know.

Image

When the Aborigine boy saves them by sharing his own survival tips and then inviting them to join his spiritual walkabout, the siblings at first have trouble understanding his actions, let alone his language.

Image

However, in short order, Little Bro seems to establish a growing, if rudimentary, rapport with the wild child, something that Big Sis can't seem to pull off with either of her male companions, English-speaking or no.

I wasn't expecting Walkabout to grab me so much, but it was just so "of its era" — and so flippin' weird! I ended up watching it twice in the same week.

Image

Why DID the guy want to drive his kids to the outback, kill them, and commit suicide? One of the IMDB reviews speculated that he was ashamed over lusting after his daughter: the same reviewer seems to think the whole movie is about the pretty emotionless girl causing everyone around her to lust and, as a result, suffer tragedy.

The IMDB review crew mostly misses the quick scene where the black boy splits off a few dozen yards from the siblings, just out of their view when he talks to a woman at a sort of outdoor flea market on the other side of the hill. Whites seem to be hiring Aborigines for demeaning work, while Big Sis and Little Bro are walking close by, oblivious and unaware that they're only a few dozen yards from so-called civilization.

So, why doesn't the black boy lead the kids to the flea market? Is it because he doesn't want to lose the girl? Or because he thinks they're now a vital part of his mystical "walkabout," his coming of age ritual?

That one brief scene indicates the black boy is either VERY devout or else VERY devious, wanting the girl all to himself.

Image

Eventually (SPOILER ALERT: yeah, the movie's over 40 years old, but I only recently saw the thing, so maybe you haven't seen it?) Big Sis and Little Bro do make their way back to the edge of civilization, though not without still more tragedy (the most horrific of which barely seems to register as a blip on Big Sis's emotional radar, even when it's clear that her cold detachment is the CAUSE of what happened).

The thing almost everyone on IMDB seems to miss is that final flashback Big Sis has in her suburban kitchen. Years later, while her oh-so-veddy propah husband (recalling her murder/suicide-minded dad?) babbles on about some business deal or other he just closed at work, Big Sis stares off, over his shoulder, and thinks about that long-ago walkabout...

Image

(MORE SPOILER) She seems to wistfully recall bathing nude in a majestic waterfall-fed pond, with the black boy and her brother.

BUT: that never happened! In the waterfall scene, as seen earlier in the film, she swam ALONE, far too uptight to let the black boy, let alone her brother, come anywhere near.

And yet her adult fantasy is about having taken the nude swim WITH her faux outback family. Everybody all nude and relaxed, with no "civilized" uptightness. Black boy, Little Bro, Big Sis, all nude and carefree.

The world she COULD have possibly had. At least in her (oh-so-regretful) fantasies.

Quite a thought-provoking little movie!

Image



Previous Grindhouse Movie Reviews/Seen on DVD columns:

Image "Black Caesar (1973) and Cover Me Babe (1970)" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Donnie Darko Sequel Doesn’t Deserve Bad Rap" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Queen of the Damned: Anne Rice Offshoot Doesn't Deserve Bad Rap" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Cult Movie Review: Forbidden Zone (1982)" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Cult Movie Reviews: Andy Warhol's Bad & The Sentinel" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Movies Shot in San Diego: Wicked Wicked (1973)" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Movies Shot in San Diego: A Force of One (1979)" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Phantom of the Paradise and the Day the Ken Cinema Made Cult Movie History" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Velvet Goldmine Channels '70s Glam and Oscar Wilde" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "They’re Rebooting the Crow?! 4 Remakes Good as (or Better) Than the Originals" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Wonderwall w/ George Harrison: Lost 1968 Psychedelic Gem" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Iron Man vs Watchmen" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Pan's Labyrinth vs. The Devil's Backbone" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "John Waters Newbie Screens a Waters Marathon" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "We Asked 25 Local Celebs What's Your Favorite Twilight Zone?" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "What Do YOU Think? Does the Walking Dead Stink, Or ?" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Dateline: May 1959 - Elvis Movie Causes Mexican Riot" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Local Celebs Who LOVE Star Wars!" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Former Local Co-Creating Newest Star Trek Adventures" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image
"Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: Local Wrote the Book (& Upcoming DVD Extras)" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Punk Rock Dads Docu: Blink, Red Hot Chili, Pennywise, more" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Local Drummer Featured in New Documentary" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Local Singer & Ramona Footage in Quiet Riot Documentary Film" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Why Porn Movies Deserve To Die Out" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "American Artifact Documentary DVD Celebrates Concert Poster Art" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "DVD Documentary Features Local Cult Star Gary Wilson" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Locally Shot Transvestite Documentary on DVD" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...



RELATED ARTICLES:

ImageImage

"Field Of Screens" -- Cover story 7-6-06: Complete theater-by-theater history of San Diego drive-ins thru the years, including interviews with operators and attendees, dozens of rare and unpublished photos, vintage local theater ads, and more. http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image

"Do You Remember: The Midway Drive-in" - http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image

"Before It Was The Gaslamp: Balboa’s Last Stand" -- Cover story 6-21-07: In the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, I worked at downtown San Diego's grindhouse all-night movie theaters. This detailed feature recalls those dayz, the death of the Balboa Theatre, etc., including interviews with operators, vintage local movie ads, and more. http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Image "Pussycat Theaters: When 'Cathouses Ruled California" -- for the first time, the inside story of the west coast Pussycat Theater chain of adult moviehouses, which peaked in the '70s but later died out. Company head Vince Miranda owned and lived part time at the Hotel San Diego, operating several other local theaters downtown and in Oceanside, Escondido, etc. Told by those who actually ran the theaters, with a complete theater-by-theater encyclopedia covering every Pussycat that ever screened in CA -- http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Lil' Paul Williams (who made Kensington history in 1983) is STILL ALIVE!

Next Article

Seen on DVD Review: Birds of Prey aka Batgirl & Friends

Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close