Rereleased as a regular Blu-ray from Second Sight Films following their Limited Edition release of 2020, Nicolas Roeg’s mesmerising tale of adolescence and adventure in the Outback is as magnificent today as it was in 1971.
Despite its’ 12 rating and placement on the BFI’s “50 Films You Should See by the Age of 14”, Walkabout is a challenging film that still shocks from its chilling opening that strands two siblings (Jenny Agutter, Luc Roeg) in the Australian Outback up to a shocking moment beneath a tree in the film’s final act. This is a very dark film, and animal lovers should certainly be wary of its hunting scenes. While these scenes were able to bypass the Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act 1937 as the animals “did not appear to be in distress” and the film’s nudity is non-sexualised, these technicalities that allowed the film to be rated a 12 do not necessarily make it child-friendly. I would argue that, while the themes within the film and the story itself are largely accessible, there is a dark, menacing quality of danger to a lot of the film that could make it difficult for some youngsters to enjoy.
Roeg’s second feature – two years before he would truly make his name with 1973’s Don’t Look Now – is certainly a fascinating glimpse of what was to come for the English director. Elements of the film are certainly tinged with terror that would go on to be fully explored in the aforementioned horror classic. But beneath the violence and fear of the film there is certainly a universal tale of adolescence and life. Roeg himself described the film as “a simple story about life and being alive, not covered with sophistry but addressing the most basic human themes; birth, death, mutability.” But I would say that these themes are buried under some sequences that could frighten younger viewers.
For a mature audience, though, Walkabout is a stunning film with rich cinematography and memorable moments, fronted by a magnificent performance by a young Jenny Agutter – who can currently be seen on the big screen reprising her iconic role from The Railway Children over 50 years later. Whether we’ll see her in inevitable Walkabout 2 remains to be seen…
This regular rerelease of the film from Second Sight retains the wealth of fascinating special features on the disc, at the expense of the earlier (now out-of-print) release’s extravagant packaging and included extras such as the original novel, script, essays, etc. For those just wanting to take a haunting journey back to the Outback without all the associated gubbins, this disc is the way to go.
Beautiful and haunting, Walkabout remains a magnificent film but one that youngsters should approach with caution.