“Some nomads are at home everywhere.
Others are at home nowhere,
and I was one of those.”
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 . . .
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.”
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.”
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.
- 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.
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.”
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.
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. . .
|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|
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!
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