The contrast between modern, urban civilisation and life in the natural world lies at the heart of Nicolas Roeg's visually dazzling drama Walkabout.

In broad outline, the plot might resemble a standard fish-out-of-water tale: two city children become stranded in the Australian outback, and struggle to find their way back to civilisation with the help of a friendly Aboriginal boy.

But Roeg and screenwriter Edward Bond are concerned with far more than the average wilderness drama, as a shocking act of violence near the story's beginning makes clear. This is particularly true in regards to the relationship between the white children and the Aboriginal boy, who ultimately develops a troubled romantic attraction towards the older sister.

Obviously intended as a statement on the exploitation of the natural world and native cultures by European civilisation, the film nevertheless maintains an evocative vagueness that usually - but not always - favours poetry over didacticism.

Most importantly, the film's justifiably acclaimed cinematography is likely to sway even those who find fault with the film's narrative and message. The shift between the sterile city images and the truly stunning, beautifully composed Australian landscapes provide the film's single best argument, making the film a vivid and convincing experience.

Walkabout trailer


David Gulpilil - Aboriginal boy
Jenny Agutter - white girl
Luc Roeg - white boy
Release dates
1971 - Great Britain, Australia
January 1997 - U.S. re-release (limited; fully restored to its director's cut)
August 20th, 1998 - Germany (Distributor: MFA)
Video/DVD release date
May 06, 1998 (DVD)
R18+ - Restricted
20th Century Fox, Films Incorporated
John Barry

Walkabout flopped at the time in Australia, but is now considered a world classic.

In 1998, Walkabout was re-released as the "director's cut", a restoration of the film as it was originally edited by the director, with a re-mastered soundtrack and additional five minute scene.

Video release 100 min (USA release: limited distribution and five minutes of full-frontal nudity by Jenny Agutter were cut by the censors.)

Luc Roeg is the son of director Nicolas Roeg.

The movie is based on the novel Walkabout by James Vance Marshall.

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Korff, J 2019, Walkabout, <>, retrieved 19 June 2024

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