When 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.