Wednesday, 4 May 2011


John Barry in 1971.

Following what looked like to be a very entertaining Festival Film Quiz The Robert Burns Centre Film Club screened Walkabout (1971) to commemorate the death of one of the most prolific and distinguished names in British and international cinema for his film music. John Barry died from a heart attack on the 30th January 2011 aged 77. His main claim to fame was for the work he done on twelve James Bond movies making him highly influential on the musical style and the general ambience of the Bond films. During his career he won five Academy Awards, two for Born Free (1966) one for The Lion in Winter (1968), Out of Africa (1985) and Dances with Wolves (1990) as well as numerous BAFTA and Golden Globe Awards and how could we ever forget the theme to Juke Box Jury (BBC 1959 – 1967)? His haunting score for tonight’s film again influences the overall atmosphere of the movie.

Not quite Railway Children!
English filmmaker Nicolas Roeg spent a lot of time behind the camera before he finally turned to directing and it certainly shows on his first solo directorial debut, beautifully composed and photographed with superb use of colour (his first film Performance (1970) was co-directed with Donald Cammell). It tells a story that pulsates with desire, a rite of passage involving two children cast adrift in the harsh but  stunning Australian outback.  Their father commits suicide leaving them to fend for them selves. Wondering lost in the wilderness; they meet a young aborigine boy on his “walkabout” a time apart from the tribe when he must commune with nature. From this chance meeting develops a sensual relationship between “the Girl” played by the deliberately sexualised Jenny Agutter, and the “Black Boy” David Gulpilil, who went on to appear in many Australian films including Baz Luhrmanns Australia (2008). Roeg also used his son Luc to play “White Boy” The film was based on a novel of the same name by Vance Marshall, English playwright Edward Bond, a man instrumental in the abolition of Theatre censorship in the UK, adapted the screenplay.

Walkabout is a good example of Nicolas Roeg’s directing style, with its use of flashbacks and the cut up technique that deliberately avoids straight lines in his stories and assumes that the viewer’s have the intelligence to work it out. He puts typical English people in un-English settings, casting them adrift from their normal habitat. This is a movie that will mean different things to different people, as Roeg does not provide conclusions. My take would be the dark mystery of communication; well I’m entitled to my opinion!

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