"Walkabout" and its glorious, forgotten star



Watching Nicolas Roeg's 1977 Australian outback journey Walkabout, I couldn't help but notice its bright eyed young actress Jenny Agutter. She steals every scene with her genuine beauty here, encompassing an otherwise banal and middling story into a kind of meditation on loneliness and sexual repression. Agutter, 25 at the time, wasn't shy to show her entire nude body off on screen. Quite simply known as "Girl" in the movie, she's a guardian to her little brother and muse to an aboriginal guide. She's lost in the outback after her father goes bonkers and puts a bullet in his head out of madness. It's a strange, unexpected scene that perfectly sets up the -rather- slow driving narrative that follows. Agutter is the star here, with her sun soaked freckles, bright eyed optimism and school girl outfit.



The ambiguous ending is rather maddening but strangely fitting to a story that goes nowhere but really does go everywhere in its portrayal isolation and growing up. "Girl" is followed by her little brother through the movie -brilliantly played by Luc Roeg, the director's little brother- we wait for him to whine or moan as the long, arduous journey progresses but he doesn't ditto his sister. They have been sheltered their entire lives and find a new found freedom in the outback with its bewilderingly exotic creatures and biblically passaged landscapes. Agutter is game in every scene. She is the reason to watch Walkabout. Still an actress to this day, Agutter isn't in high budgeted productions but in rather unseen television performances. She is better known to mainstream movie goers as Joanne Simpson in Child's Play 2 but it's Walkabout that is likely her truest work as an artist.



There are sporadically brilliant scenes in Walkabout, yet I felt it did drag. It sought out to get a mood that it did not completely find. But the chutzpah on display is remarkable. Only in the 70's would a studio picture like this get made and only in the 70's -with mad artistic freedom in full display- would you have a scene such as the swimming sequence, which can be semi glimpsed at in some of the photos I've put in this post. It's Miss Gutter's show, she brings eroticism as well as feeling to isolation. I couldn't have liked her more in it.

(side note) I IMDB'ed Agutter right after watching Roeg's film and found out she will have a small part in the upcoming big budgeted Avengers movie due out summer 2012.
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Anonymous said...

Small correction, Jenny Agutter was 16 at the time she made the film, not 25. In fact funding for the film was delayed and she turned 16 at that point, meaning she could appear nude.

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