Off­beat mem­oir probes enig­mas of film

The World is Ever Chang­ing

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - Louis Nowra

By Ni­co­las Roeg Faber, 256pp, $35

ONE of the best Aus­tralian films was di­rected by an English­man. Made in 1971 and based on a novel, Walk­a­bout is a de­cep­tively sim­ple story about a young boy and his teenage sis­ter aban­doned in the out­back, try­ing to find their way back to civil­i­sa­tion with the help of a young Abo­rig­ine.

The film is like a vis­ual poem and when the Abo­rig­i­nal man hangs him­self be­cause the white girl doesn’t un­der­stand his courtship dance it be­comes a heart­break­ing con­fir­ma­tion of the gulf be­tween the two cul­tures. But what stunned me when I first saw it was a scene where the young white boy watches hunters shoot a bul­lock. Af­ter the an­i­mal dies it springs back to life again. The res­ur­rec­tion was one of the most as­ton­ish­ing mo­ments I had seen in the cin­ema. What I was wit­ness­ing was the boy’s wish that the bul­lock live.

This was di­rec­tor Ni­co­las Roeg’s sec­ond fea­ture. Aus­tralia would have to wait some years to see his first, the deliri­ous iden­tity swap­ping Per­for­mance, co-di­rected by Don­ald Cam­mell. Af­ter Walk­a­bout Roeg made the haunt­ing Don’t Look Now. In it he cre­ated one of the most sem­i­nal — and much copied — se­quences in film where a mar­ried cou­ple’s love­mak­ing is in­ter­cut with their mun­dane post-coital ac­tiv­i­ties. What fol­lowed were more in­tox­i­cat­ing movies like The Man Who Fell to Earth, Bad Tim­ing and Eureka — each of them a master­piece, even if at times they puz­zled au­di­ences with their oblique ap­proach to nar­ra­tive and chronol­ogy.

He is a unique tal­ent whose films have been mis­un­der­stood and un­der­val­ued. He is also a con­sum­mate tech­ni­cian, hav­ing risen through the ranks as gofer, cam­era op­er­a­tor and

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