Fortunately for me (as a critic) and you (as a potential viewer), there's more to Walkabout than pure cinema. [Note to readers: I'm not against pure cinema; I just generally can't handle it for more than thirty minutes and I find it difficult to write about.] The plot may be minimal and the film may primarily define itself visually but those two factors intersect to provide the film with a multi-layered subtext. First, as Roger Ebert has noted in his Great Movies essay, the film is about the difficulty of communication between two separate cultures. Secondly, you can read the film and its devastating conclusion as a tale about modernization's effects on native culture. What types of struggles must an immigrant/colonized subject face when they are integrated into an industrialized society? Third, you can read the film as a love story between the young Aborigine boy on his walkabout (a coming of age ritual in which a boy fends for himself and, if he returns, is declared a man) and a white woman who is attracted to him, but unable to relate to him.
Whilst strictly speaking not an Australian film, the subject matter is so utterly Australian that the film really is an Australian film for all intents and purposes. As such, this was the very first Australian film that I ever saw and it has long held a very special place in my cinematic heart. Walkabout is like no other film and during the course of its 100 minutes it takes you on a journey unlike any other. It is a visually stunning journey through the outback and it is the power of that visual journey that leaves such an indelible mark upon the memory. If you read some of the rather interesting essay by Roger Ebert, it becomes clear that this is a film held in high regard by many critics and a film therefore all the more missed due to the lack of its appearance for many years on home video. To be honest though, it needed DVD to come along and give the film the format that it needed in order to bring to life the magnificent visuals.
The commentary by Roeg and Jenny Agutter, from the original Criterion release, is offered here in all its understated, unflappably British glory; Roeg rarely lets his ego rip while discussing methodology, so you're left even more spellbound than before by the film's images. There are also new interviews with Agutter and Luc Roeg, whose face hasn't matured one bit since Walkabout was shot. The most entertaining addition, however, is an hour-length documentary about David Gulpilil, Australian native-turned-film actor. The segments on his contribution to are more enlightening than the Walkabout anecdotes, but the study excellently captures Gulpilil's curiously half-modest, half-stage talent personality (and when he decries Crocodile Dundee as "bullshit" you might find the white wine you were sipping rushing through your nasal cavity). The booklet also wisely swaps out Roger Ebert's appreciation of the film for a more pensive essay by Paul Ryan.
Films that the late (19422013) regarded, in a series of essays, as the Greatest Movies Ever. Note that he didn't rank them, because he dismissed the idea of Great Movies ranking. For those unaware of who Roger Ebert was, he was one of the most respected film critics ever, which is the main reason this list has its own page.