Review: Wake in Fright / Cert: 18 / Director: Ted Kotcheff / Screenplay: Evan Jones / Starring: Gary Bond, Donald Pleasance, Chips Raffety, Sylvia Kay, Jack Thompson / Release Date: March 31st
A 1971 Australian classic, Wake in Fright is almost a dirty little secret of cinema. Adapted from Kenneth Cook’s 1961 novel of the same name, the film made its world premiere at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival, nominated for the prestigious Palme D’Or. After a badly handled US theatrical run, it then fell off the radar, not even garnering a VHS or DVD release. Now, thanks to some extreme digging and restoration work, Wake in Fright is set to get the attention and praise that it deserves.
The story focuses on John Grant (Bond), a very British teacher who is teaching in the Australian outback. Tied to a contract that he cannot afford to pay his way out of, Grant looks down on his surroundings. When a planned trip to Sydney sees him having to spend a night in the mining town of Bundanyabba, his life begins to change before his eyes. One night turns to five, and, before he knows it, he’s submerged in an alcohol-infused milieu of gambling, hunting and ‘mateship’ – a world that he detests. By the time the movie comes to a close, Grant finds himself becoming what he hates, stranded in a world where he has no future and his best option could be staring back at him from the chamber of his rifle.
For the full review, head on over to Starburst Magazine.