The title refers to the Aboriginal rite of passage in which a teenage male is forced to spend months alone in the Outback, to test whether he can survive on his own. Nicolas Roeg's first solo directing credit (he's also responsible for the gorgeous cinematography), combines the story of Gulpilil's walkabout with the plight of a white teenager and her little brother (Agutter and John) who are lost there. As their paths cross, the film contrasts the two teenagers, both at a crucial point in their lives, but they don't manage to forge a deep connection as they would in a more conventional film. Meanwhile, nature looms all around them, expansive and uncaring, sometimes beautiful (as in Agutter's famous nude swimming scene), but just as often frightening. WALKABOUT confidently walks through a minefield of potential clichés and copouts (a lesser film would've devolved into me-Tarzan-you-Jane silliness) coming out at the end not only unscathed but triumphant.
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