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Film Review: Why Tracks is Best Desert Film There Is.

“Some nomads are at home everywhere. 

Others are at home nowhere, 

and I was one of those.” 

Robyn Davidson

Tracks film review - Must-See Desert Film @ MyDesertLove.com

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I almost did it again.
In my excitement, I was going to click “Publish” and realized I did not include a summary of the film.
“If I know – certainly everyone has heard about it by now, right?!”
Always my asinine assumption, because I live on a remote desert mountain.
Somehow I caught myself – I think I am learning a thing or two . . .

Tracks is a 2013 Australian drama, but it was released in the United States in 2014. It is based on the memoir by Robyn Davidson of the same name.
For nearly two hours, there are a mere three key human figures in the film and several camels and a black dog, “Diggity”. I am exaggerating a bit – there are cameos and they are all very memorable.

It is 1977 and the film opens with Robyn keen on preparing for her journey. She walks everywhere with her dog by her side, keen on walking from Alice Springs – across Australian deserts – to finally dip her feet into the Indian Ocean. It is a baffling and original trek of 2,700 kilometers or 1,700 miles. So, there’s a lot of walking, a lot of Desert dust and grime, camels, and plenty of hardship . . . and I loved it.

So I ♥ Tracks.

And you are thinking, “So, who are you anyhow?!”
No problem. Definitely a good point.
So, I’ll start with a couple of snippets from notable film reviewers . . . no worries there will be plenty more:

  • robertebert.com . . . “you miss Tracks at your aesthetic pleasure peril. It’s a truly outstanding cinema experience.”
  • rollingstone.com . . . “Tracks is an exhilarating adventure that opens up an unknown world to most of us and does it so well that we feel we’re living it too.

Okay, I’ll admit there are some criticisms of my film.

  • nytimes.com . . . “one of the frustrations of this movie is that it captures the beauty of her trip without tapping its deeper resonance… As it turns out, nothing else in Tracks matches the dramatic pow of a camel being relieved of his testes. Despite the otherworldly scenery and some predictable tragedy” – ouch! 

Another critic must have been inebriated. Made me laugh!

  • newyorker.com . . . “Robyn walks across the desert because she wants to—that’s all— . . . The slight Wasikowska is a capable, pure-spirited actress, but she lacks the largeness of desire and the perversity that, say, Charlize Theron would have brought to the role a decade ago.”

Methinks this is a symptom of Hollywood obsessed narrow-mindedness. It is a story written by an Australian, an Australian film, filmed in Australia, featuring Australian deserts, and stars an Australian actress. Thank goodness for all that!

It is a quiet film. In the desert it is quiet. I appreciate how the film resonates and gives you room to draw what you need from it, rather than be hand-held through every “pertinent” interaction. It is more reflective.

    • washingtonpost.com . . . “She explains that the only time she feels free is when she’s away from society, somewhere remote with her animals. We see how she arrived at this point through a mix of lovely, unobtrusive narration and affecting flashbacks.
      There are some unnerving moments during Davidson’s trip, but the movie doesn’t milk any incident for more drama than it needs. And there’s power in its understated approach.

Obviously I am not completely desert love delusional about this. That last line I put in bold says it all. When I first moved to the desert, I didn’t know what to think. How I recognized “beauty” was challenged at every turn. In the wide-eyed wonderful eyes of my children, I saw the beauty that I was arrogant to overlook before. I stopped and “smelled the cactus” and never regretted it.

This is a quiet and thoughtful journey, giving you plenty of room to project any personal connotations and leave you with a fuller heart, filled with desert inspiration.

Watch “Tracks” because its . . .

MOVING

The performances are so very memorable. Quiet, thoughtful moments that speak volumes with sparse dialogue.

  • variety.com . . . “Robyn’s experiences gain heft and resonance from Curran’s direction, which patiently teases out individual moments rather than rushing to get them over with.”
Tracks film 2014 - film review by MyDesertLove.com - moving and memorable characters

Click on image for Tracks film review by Rolling Stones.

AUTHENTIC

It is a film based on a true story – rather than a documentary, but it has a gritty authenticity. There is very little Hollywood polish. I found National Geographic images of the actual journey to be very similar to the depictions in this film. Details down to the attire have been respected.

    • chicagotribune.com . . . “More than a travelogue or a chronicle of self-willed solitude, director John Curran’s gorgeous film version starring Mia Wasikowska betrays hardly a trace of Hollywood machinery in the storytelling.”

From magazine.good.is - Featured image from book Inside Tracks by Rick Smolan

INSPIRING

You have to be brave to be alone. Extraordinarily brave to be alone and trek across the Australian desert. Never mind the admirable strength of character to take on the responsibility to care and task a small herd of camels as well as a dog on this journey. There is no one else to take over the shifts, when you are worn or forlorn.
Desert Fearless in Tracks 2014 film on MyDesertLove.com

  • chicagotribune.com . . . “Tracks is about what it means to be a societal outlier. The indigenous peoples encountered by Davidson in her travels, as well as the free-floating sexism and misogyny she endured, often with an averted glance and a tense silence, from the skeptical or jeering men along the way, are neither downplayed nor overplayed.”
  • newyorker.com . . . “She chooses her solitary fate in an act of self-transcending defiance. In a sexist society, like that of the Australia of forty years ago, she’s certainly heroic—everyone thinks she’s strange.”

All about the FUR LOVE

It is such a unique and enthralling story of a girl and her animals. Wild camel encounters never crossed my mind before this film. I had the incorrect impression of docility and awkwardness. Now I am so much more aware of their similarity to the haughty determination and impressive size of wild horses.

Feral Camels are so real in Australia from Tracks film on MyDesertLove.comFeral Camels are so real in Australia from Tracks film on MyDesertLove.com

Then there’s Robyn’s black dog, Diggity.

This film is a tribute to the desert, but it is also a tribute to her relationship with Diggity.

“Animal lovers. Especially female ones are often accused of being neurotic, and unable to relate successfully to other human beings. More often than not, those pointing the finger never had a pet. It seems to me the universe gave us 3 things to make life bearable: hope, jokes, and dogs. But the greatest of these gifts was dogs.” 
Tracks (2014).

Beauty of Dog Love in Tracks 2014 film on MyDesertLove.com

OR just because its so damn BEAUTIFUL

  • rogerebert.com . . . “Tracks isn’t interested in falsely flattering its audience, but it is interested in ravishing it: the nature imagery presented in widescreen by the director and cinematographer Mandy Walker is breathtaking; striking and poetic”
  • washingtonpost.com . . . “Director John Curran (“The Painted Veil”) captures the stark allure of the landscape so well, there are moments you might almost understand why Davidson chose to go there.”

Here are just a few stills I captured from the film. You really need to see it all in context, in line with the story, the soundtrack – if you have desert love, then you will undoubtedly love this!
If not, then be prepared to begin a journey that will last a lifetime.
Desert Beautiful in Tracks 2014 film on MyDesertLove.com

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Here’s an official trailer:
Here’s a clip from the film:
And here’s a preview of the soundtrack, in case you become as big a fan as I am. . .

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DVD & Amazon Instant Video options Original Book by Robyn Davidson (1995) Book with photographs by the photographer from the original expedition Rick Smolan. Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

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I have added the books above to my wish list.

History is best felt through memoirs, so I read them to my kids. I am so very anxious to read them, but have a stack of books gathering dust by my bedside. I am supposed to remind myself that the books will still be there when I am ready to read them, per the hubs, “Magnum”. Infuriating, but true. I hope to add a link to my book review once I get my hands on these books. I think it will be interesting to compare the different perspectives of these two characters on this journey when they played such disparate parts.

What do you think?
Did my objective review spark any interest for you?
Or have you seen the film and have a contrary review?
I would love to hear it.
I believe all reactions are worth noting. For me this makes the piece a work of art, when it is at least memorable and can trigger a discussion or two.
It was great fun sharing my first film review with you. If there is a desert film that you love to recommend – that would be ever so appreciated as well!

 

@ 2015 Vi Dotter/My Desert Love Designs & Blog All Rights Reserved.

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12 Comments

  1. October 13, 2015    

    Great review. I prefer movies that don’t hit you over the head with an obvious agenda, and lets you come to your own conclusion. I have not heard about a Tracks, I will have to check it out.
    Mikayla recently posted…Street Style: Zendaya at Paris Fashion WeekMy Profile

    • October 13, 2015    

      Thanks so much Mikayla – I hope you enjoy it too. Maybe you can come back and tell me if I’m just “desert love delusional” or not. I heard that the Reese Witherspoon American film “Wild” came out the same time and had critical acclaim. I tried it and its a little too dramatic for my taste – but its a good comparison. Hollywood vs. Australian film.

  2. October 13, 2015    

    I haven’t seen this, or even heard of it yet, but it sounds interesting. I agree with what you said about the review from newyorker.com, it’s an Australian movie why should it have to have an American leading actress? Thanks for the review.

    • October 13, 2015    

      Glad you enjoyed my very first review and super glad to put it on your radar. Critics can be so bizarre sometimes.

  3. October 12, 2015    

    Love the review and appreciate the details. I’d been searching for a good review of this flick!

    • October 12, 2015    

      Thanks so much Tracy. My very first and I could hardly stop – so much good stuff to share. Glad you enjoyed it.

  4. October 11, 2015    

    I live in Southern California. It’s 104 in mid october. I like movies (even movies about the desert), but I don’t like living in the desert. I want a cold climate.
    Judia Krakowski recently posted…WaveMy Profile

    • October 11, 2015    

      Wow – that’s hot! I was raised in Socal and recall driving through the desert parts of the state – and thinking “not for me” too! Now I’m in Big Bend, Chihuahuan arid desert country and its much more moderate and not as barren – as that stark and desolate type of desert. It’s never too late to hit the road and get yourself north where the cooler temps are!

  5. October 11, 2015    

    Believe it or not I have not heard of this movie. Then again I do not have a lot of time to watch television. However, you did a fabulous job describing the movie, and it has certainly caught my attention and peaked my curiosity. I will have to check it out.

    • October 11, 2015    

      I know what you mean. Sometimes I have things on as background, but rarely have time to watch things myself. I am still catching up to films from 2008 or so. Really appreciate your feedback Jaime. I just hope to do the movie justice and spread some love. OH! I have your Liebster Award post on my draft to do list. You can see blog posts are a bit of a labor of love for me – but it will be posted soon. Thanks again!

  6. October 11, 2015    

    Wow! What an informative post about this movie. Awesome job! It looks very interesting, deserts are beautiful.

    http://www.hearditthroughtheirvine.com

    • October 11, 2015    

      Thanks Brittany – it was my longest post up to date. What a relief to click publish. So glad you feel the desert love!

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