Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Walkabout (1971)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Walkabout (1971, UK/Australia)

In Nicolas Roeg's haunting directorial solo debut film:

  • in the shocking opening scene, suicidal Australian businessman (John Meillon) tried to murder his teen-aged, 14 year-old schoolgirl daughter (17 year-old Jenny Agutter in her film debut) and six-year-old son (Lucien John) in the bush during a picnic and then committed suicide in front of them
  • the two were forced to struggle and adapt to the blazing hot and hostile climate of the Australian outback and its terrain. They were fortunately saved when aided by a teenaged adolescent Aboriginal Black Boy (David Gumpilil), who was involved in his ritualistic 'walkabout' (to prove his manhood and mark his entrance into adulthood)
Struggling to Survive in the Outback
  • after overcoming self-consciousness and civilization's social conventions, the Girl engaged in a lengthy nude swim (an awe-inspiring natural scene) in a natural lagoon pond (with non-gratuitous full frontal nudity) - a symbol of her sexual awakening, although this would lead to tragic circumstances for the older aboriginal boy
Nude Swimming Sequence
  • during the native aborigine's 'walkabout' - with a painted skeleton on his body - he performed a silent, ritualistic mating dance for the civilized, repressed girl at a deserted farmhouse, where he glimpsed her half-undressed
The Boy's Rejected Mating Dance
The Aborigine Boy's Pursuit of Girl
  • she ignored and resisted his (and her own) sexual rite of passage, by continuing to treat him as a detached servant -- with disastrous results. After the aboriginal danced all night and became saddened and weary (with tears in his eyes), she found him the next morning hanging dead in a mango tree, and she barely reacted to his death
  • the film ended years later with the young girl now married and returned to civilization, living in a high-rise apartment complex. She was wistfully daydreaming back to her idyllic days in the outback when she happily swam naked with the aborigine and her young brother. They were long-gone days of paradise lost, reflected in a voice-over quote from Part 40 of A.E. Housman's 'A Shropshire Lad':

    Into my heart an air that kills From yon far country blows: What are those blue-remembered hills, What spires, what farms are those? That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain, The happy highways where I went And cannot come again.

Suicide of Businessman Father

Mating Dance - With Disastrous Consequences

Girl's (Jenny Agutter) Recollections of the Outback in the Film's Conclusion


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