Sunday, May 5, 2013

Movie Review: Wake In Fright (1972) Dir. Ted Kotcheff (30 Countries Project)

May you dream of the Devil and wake in fright. - AN OLD CURSE

Wake In Fright by Ted Kotcheff

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Part 1 of the 30 Countries project.

For the purposes of this project this movie is classed as at least partially being of Australian origin as per its listing on imdb.

“In the remote towns of the west there are few of the amenities of civilization; there is no sewerage, there are no hospitals, rarely a doctor; the food is dreary and flavourless from long carrying, the water is bad; electricity is for the few who can afford their own plant, roads are mostly non-existent; there are no theatres, no picture shows and few dance halls; and the people are saved from stark insanity by the one strong principle of progress that is ingrained for a thousand miles east, north, south and west of the Dead Heart - the beer is always cold.”

Blurb: A young man from Sydney, John Grant, is teaching in a one-room school in a tiny outback town, working off a two-year bond to the Education Department. Heading back to the coast for his six-week summer break, he’s obliged to stay overnight in outback town Bundanyabba. Carried away by the local lifestyle, Grant gets drunk and blows all his money – including his plane fare home, then plunges headlong toward his own destruction in many other ways, alcoholic, sexual and spiritual through a five day nightmare.

Thoughts: A truly brilliant example of Australian cinema. A nightmare that piece by piece strips back the civilised veneer of one man and demonstrates the dark animal nature at the heart of us all. Adapted from the masterpiece of Australian literature by Canadian director Ted Kotcheff this was the first time Australia and Australians were authentically depicted in cinema, and it really is brutally honest.

The outback is known for it's vast landscapes but this is a movie of claustrophobic proportions, it's about being trapped by the desert and how small your world quickly becomes when you have no money or water, how close everything feels with the burning heat of the sun beaming down on you. The world of Wake in Fright is a brutal, stark and hallucinatory purgatory, capturing the outback without the sentimental shit designed to sell plane tickets to Brits and Yanks and Salarymen.

Wanna take a trip to the outback? Got any recommendations for a double feature? Just want to chat about Aussie cinema? Comment below or tweet @bbbgtoby with #wakeinfright


  1. Great review. I quite like the few Australian films I've seen, so I need to give this a look.

    1. This one is definitely worth the time to find. It has an interesting story about being rediscovered in a trash pile in America, quite similar to the Metropolis one actually. Thank the movie Gods that they did too as it would have been a real crime for this one to vanish forever.