Review: Wake in Fright (1971)

wake-in-fright-movie-poster-01-1950x2823__largeWhen it premièred at the Cannes Film Festival in 1971, ‘Wake in Fright’ received generally excellent reviews. It also made a lasting impact on a young, and relatively unknown film-maker by the name of Martin Scorsese. However, poor domestic box-office returns subsequently caused the film to fade into obscurity for several decades. Thankfully, ‘Wake in Fright’ was restored in 2009 and released on DVD and Blu-ray later that year, finally giving it the exposure it deserves and captivating a whole new generation of film audiences.

An Outback schoolteacher’s brief stopover in a quaint mining town quickly turns into an intense and nightmarish journey into a world of temptation, exploiting the primary desires of man. ‘Wake in Fright’ is a highly sensory experience full of striking symbolism and metaphor. The eerily isolating outback setting is photographed beautifully, and places viewers firmly in the protagonist’s shoes. The film’s portrayal of a particular aspect of our culture is unsettling, but very accurate and far from dated. I consider ‘Wake in Fright’ to be one the best Australian films ever made.

★★★★★

 

As mentioned above and seen the trailer, ‘Wake in Fright’ has undergone an extensive and much deserved restoration. For the best home viewing experience, I recommend the Eureka! Masters of Cinema (Dual Format Edition) Not only is the quality amazing, but there are a number of small featurettes which provide some interesting historical insight behind the film.

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