The Lost Cult Of Wake In Fright Essay

Question:

Discuss about The Lost Cult of Wake in Fright.

Answer:

The ‘Wake in Fright’ is considered to be one of the greatest movies in the film history of Australia. Based on the background of the outback in Australia, the movie tried to expose the dark side of the rural Australia. The ‘Wake in Fright’ is a 1971 psychological thriller film that was directed by Canadian film director Ted Kotcheff and written by Evan Jones. It was an adopted screenplay based on the 1961 novel of Kenneth Cook with the similar title. The film was failed to run in the Australian box office but got the critiques attention because of its cinematography and the way of projecting Australian life[1]. In fact, ‘Wake in Fright’ was nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes Film Festival and was one of the only two films that were screened in the Cannes twice. Therefore, the aim of this essay is to understand diverse aspects of the films. In course of this, the essay will also provide a review of the film and figure out the features that made the film a cult in the history of Australian Films.

Different layers of understanding and the incidents were incorporated in the movie to depict a savage picture of isolation that was perceived in the outback Australia those days. The story has begun with a tenured school teacher John Grant who was forced by the government to accept the post of a school teacher in a small outback town of Tiboonda. On his journey back to his hometown for Christmas holidays, he took a halt in the mining town of Bundanyabba where he met the villain of the story, Doc Tydon, a vagrant alcoholic medical practitioner that ended in an implied rape at the hands of dipsomaniacal Doc. The film has a number of interesting scenes such as the two up school, the kangaroo shoot, the molestation and subsequent attempt of escape and suicide that made the film dark and factual about the outback life of Australia[2].

The crude and rough image of the Australians was not appreciated by the home country because of its violent kangaroo shootout scenes and the way of portraying the rural life that the Australians did not expect to be filmed in such a manner. Moreover, there are also some underlying factors that were responsible for the anti-receptive situation for the premiere of the ‘Wake in Fright’[3]. It can be argued that the film crew were not Australian born that provided the viewers and critics a leverage to refute the legitimacy of the movie. For an instance, the director Kotcheff was a Canadian, the cinematographer Brian West was a British born. In fact, the casts of the films were mainly Americans[4].

Furthermore, the kangaroo hunting scene which is considered to be an important part of the film was also criticised because it was real. However, the producers made a disclaimer that those shots were specifically made by professionals but leading animal welfare organisation in US and Britain put pressure to censor that scene. In fact, during the screening in 2009 Cannes Classic 12 people walked out during the Kangaroo hunt[5].

Despite of having such obstacles and sensitive issues the film is undoubtedly one of the cult movies in the history of Australian films. Not only the acting and the cinematography was at their best but the detailing of the scenes with the blistering monologue also made the film real and harsh. In an interview for the Australian Financial Review magazine Brook Turner corroborated the fact that the rural Australia was very boring and the attitudes, the outlook of the people were very frustrated that only a person who did not born in that place could imagine the beauty of the outback[6].

Shaping the way for her fondness towards ‘Wake in Fright’ journalist Kate Jennings had argued that the film was very neat and perfect as other epic films like Waltz with Bashir from Israel or The Burmese Harp from Japan. Focusing on the acting expertise of the movie, it can be stated that every actor did his or her so well that it penetrated the heart of the viewers[7]. For an instance, the seduction of Janette towards Grant or the molestation of Doc was so disturbing and vicious that created the impression of a frustration in the mind of the viewers. The most disturbing and eccentric part of the film was its kangaroo hunting scene which was in the culmination of savagery and domination of the human race[8].

Therefore, it can be concluded that the move is truly a cult in the global film history in spite of having a number of controversies. It was true that the Australian did not appreciate the effort of Kotcheff but it cannot curtail the work of a masterpiece. The film fulfilled all the requirements of its genre and based on these understanding the film is considered to be one of the gems in Australian film history.

Bibliography

Buckmaster, L. (2016). The making of Wake in Fright: 'I wanted people to watch the film and be sweating'. The Guardian. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Jun. 2018].

Goldsmith, B., 2015. Ground Zero. In Directory of World Cinema: Australia and New Zealand 2 (pp. 182-184). Intellect Ltd..

Jennings, K. (2009). Home Truth- Revisiting Wake In Fright. The Monthly, pp.36-49.

Mattes, A., 2017. Antipodean Dream, Antipodean Nightmare: Spatial Ideology and Justin Kurzel’s Snowtown.

Savage, J. (2018). The Lost Cult of Wake in Fright. [ebook] pp.1-21. Available at: [Accessed 23 Jun. 2018].

Woollard, J., 2016. Imagined landscapes: Geovisualizing Australian spatial narratives [Book Review]. Australasian Drama Studies, (69), p.206

[1] Savage, J. (2018). The Lost Cult of Wake in Fright. [ebook] pp.1-21. Available at: [Accessed 23 Jun. 2018].

[2] Jennings, K. (2009). Home Truth- Revisiting Wake In Fright. The Monthly, pp.36-49.

[3] Buckmaster, L. (2016). The making of Wake in Fright: 'I wanted people to watch the film and be sweating'. The Guardian. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Jun. 2018].

[4] Woollard, J., 2016. Imagined landscapes: Geovisualizing Australian spatial narratives [Book Review]. Australasian Drama Studies, (69), p.206.

[5] Goldsmith, B., 2015. Ground Zero. In Directory of World Cinema: Australia and New Zealand 2 (pp. 182-184). Intellect Ltd..

[6] Jennings, K. (2009). Home Truth- Revisiting Wake In Fright. The Monthly, pp.36-49.

[7] Jennings, K. (2009). Home Truth- Revisiting Wake In Fright. The Monthly, pp.36-49.

[8] Mattes, A., 2017. Antipodean Dream, Antipodean Nightmare: Spatial Ideology and Justin Kurzel’s Snowtown.

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