So when I did a little survey a few months ago, it was pretty much unanimous that you guys wanted me to write about Aussie history, culture and review some Aussie stories. Since I also love rambling about my country 😛 I’ve decided to start a blog series called “Introducing You to Australia One Story At A Time”. Hopefully, I’ll be able to put up one of these posts once a month or so.
Anyway, I’ve got a few movies and books lined up for this series, but the one I wanted to start off with was a movie I saw a few weeks ago. It’s called Tracks, was released 2013, directed by John Curran and stars Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver.
Tracks is based on the true story of Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska), who, in 1977, decided to cross 2,700km of Australian desert, with only her dog and a number of camels for company. Knowing that she doesn’t have the money to fund such a long, arduous trip, Robyn seeks a sponsership from National Geographic. National Geographic grants her the sponsership, with the conditon that she meet up at certain points with a photographer/journalist, Rick Smolan (Adam Driver), who will report back to the magazine.
(All pictures are taken from the Imdb page, you can view them here
This movie is based on Robyn Davidson’s memoir of the same name, which chronicles her journey from Alice Springs, in the centre of Australia, to the West Australian coast. If you have a look at a map, you’ll see how wild the idea of this journey really was.
But Robyn Davidson, as this movie will show you, isn’t an easily daunted woman. She works for several years for various people in exchange for her camels, then she sets out with her dog, Diggity, to walk for six months.
What Did I Think Of The Story?
The story was fascinating. I’d heard of Ms Davidson before, but it wasn’t until I was browsing Kanopy (a free streaming service for mainly Indie films) that I realised there was a movie about her and her trip. The acting was top notch, with both Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver giving a great performance as their respective characters–Robyn, the introverted Aussie lover of the desert, and Adam as Rick Smolan–the brash, insensitive American photographer.
This isn’t an action packed story. It’s slow burning, focussing mainly on psychological and emotional events and the impact the journey had on Robyn, in both good ways and bad.
The cinematography was also incredibly stunning. It was filmed in the Northern Territory and South Australia and it really shows off Australia’s outback to great effect. I think that this was honestly one of my favourite parts, being able to see places that I love so much on screen again, since I haven’t been out to such remote outback areas for almost four years.
This movie is literally steeped in Australian culture, landscapes and history. Ms Davidson did something that virtually no one had ever done before, even including some of our earlier pioneers (most of them died on the way back) and very few have done since. She made a mark on Australian history which I’m certain will be remembered for the coming centuries.
Dating back to the times of the early explorers and pioneers, long, arduous journeys by camel have been the backbone of what Australia has become today, for better or for worse. Though Australia was first “discovered” by men in ships, it was built by men exploiting the power of “the ships of the desert”. Even today, we recognise the contribution of these men and camels through the Ghan Railway, named after the Afghan cameleers who first opened up the inland.
The settling of the outback had a massive impact on the continent of Australia. It destroyed the last refuge of the Indigenous people, bringing even the most far-flung tribes into contact, and usually conflict, with white men. However, it also allowed Australian sheep and cattle farming to thrive and essentially put us on the map.
Tracks addresses a number of these conflicts. In one scene, Rick Smolan violates the privacy of a group of Aboriginal people while they’re holding a sacred ceremony, taking pictures of a ceremony not meant to be observed by white men. His ignorance causes a rift between him and Robyn and between Robyn and the Aboriginal elders she hoped would guide her across the desert. It was nice to see a nuanced view of the way white men (and women, obviously) interacted with the Aboriginal people–from ignorance and hostility, to indifference, and finally to friendship and respect.
Overall, this movie is fascinating. It definitely wouldn’t be for everyone, but I encourage you to look it up and see if you can find it on any American/British/Other streaming sites (do you guys have Kanopy?)
Sorry if this review seemed a bit scattered, I’m sort of stepping out into new territory a bit here. Let me know what you think of the idea though, and let me know if you have any ideas for Australian themed books, movies or songs that you’d like me to cover!
How about you guys? Have you seen the movie Tracks? Do you like camels, just a random question? Have you seen any interesting survival type movies lately?