offoffoff film
 RELATED PROJECTS

      







 ADVERTISEMENT













Site links
  • OFFOFFOFF Home
  • About OFFOFFOFF
  • Contact us

    Get our newsletter:
     
    Search the site:
     

    Film section
  • Film main page
  • Film archive
  • Audio index
  • Film links


    Top 10 lists


  • Top 10 films of 2004
    (Andrea, David, Joshua, Leslie)
  • Top 10 films of 2003
    (Andrea, David, Joshua, Leslie)
  • Top 10 films of 2002
  • Top 10 films of 2001
  • Top 10 films of 2000
  • Top 10 films of 1999
  •  All of our top 10 lists, 1999 - 2004

    Current movies


  • Afterschool
  • Antichrist
  • Babies
  • Broken Embraces
  • Dare
  • District 9
  • The End of Poverty?
  • Fix
  • Food Beware
  • The Men Who Stare at Goats
  • Pirate Radio
  • Precious
  • Red Cliff
  • The September Issue

    Festivals


  • Brooklyn International Film Festival
  • Human Rights Watch Film Festival
  • New York Film Festival

    Archive


    Complete archive

    Recent reviews:
  • (500) Days of Summer
  • Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer
  • The Art of the Steal
  • The Beetle
  • Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh
  • Boy A
  • Brideshead Revisited
  • The Brothers Bloom
  • Burn After Reading
  • Cold Souls
  • The Duchess
  • Elegy
  • Enlighten Up! A Skeptic's Journey Into the World of Yoga
  • Five Minutes of Heaven
  • Flame and Citron
  • Frozen River
  • Happy-Go-Lucky
  • How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
  • The Human Condition
  • Hunger
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • King of Shadows
  • The Lemon Tree
  • Lorna's Silence
  • A Man Named Pearl
  • Man on Wire
  • Memorial Day
  • Mister Foe
  • Morning Light
  • My F├╝hrer
  • My One and Only
  • Paris
  • The Pervert's Guide to Cinema
  • Peter and Vandy
  • Police, Adjective
  • Pray the Devil Back to Hell
  • Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind
  • Rachel Getting Married
  • A Secret
  • Sleep Dealer
  • St. Trinian's
  • Thirst
  • Throw Down Your Heart
  • Valentino: The Last Emperor
  • What's the Matter with Kansas?
  • Wild Grass
  • Jay DiPietro

  •  REVIEW: THE TRACKER



      The Tracker
    How the Outback was won

    "The Tracker" is a thrilling Australian twist on the Western genre, following a search party whose inner tensions between whites and natives overshadow the hunt for their desert quarry.

    By JOSHUA TANZER
    Offoffoff.com


    "The Tracker" may look like a movie about four men trekking endlessly through the Australian desert, but there are constant tensions below the surface that make it a more exciting journey than you would ever expect from the opening scenes alone.

    THE TRACKER
    Written and directed by: Rolf de Heer.
    Cast: David Gulpilil, Gary Sweet, Damon Gameau, Grant Page, Noel Wilton.
    Cinematography: Ian Jones.
      
    The film delves into the life of a tracker exactly like a secondary character from the film "Rabbit Proof Fence" — a quiet, mysterious aboriginal man sent by the white colonists to catch three fleeing youngsters. In that film, he is simply an implacable pursuer, full of skill and silent power but never explained as a character. Where does he get his amazing abilities? Why does he work for the white colonists and where are his true sympathies?

    This film puts the tracker (played again by David Gulpilil of "Rabbit Proof Fence") into a new, more complex situation where his true nature is put to the test and his own life is very much at stake. He is helping a three-man military squad hunt down an aboriginal man accused of murdering a white woman. "We'll lose him if he gets to his tribe," warns the ruthlessly determined commanding officer. "Not even our dusky friend will be able to find him then."

      The Tracker
    The "dusky friend," although he has learned to camouflage his true thoughts under a curt "Yes boss!" most of the time, still has a source of power over the armed men riding on horseback behind his lead. Without him they will never find the fugitive. So the real battle of wills and wits in this story is not between the hunter and his quarry — it's a life-and-death struggle within the search party itself. The commander (Gary Sweet), ever unsure of the tracker's loyalty, warns him not to betray the whites in their hunt for the fugitive. "If I don't catch him, it will be your ears I take back with me," he says. And yet, however much he is threatened, the tracker knows that he is indispensible. If he doesn't move, the whole party doesn't move.

    This whole struggle — sometimes fought out in the open, sometimes just discernible under the surface — reflects a larger clash of power and culture in Australian history. In parts, it goes almost too far in reversing the white-black power roles, veering close to caricature of the whites and revenge fantasy on behalf of the natives. But most of the film is clever, tense and sometimes even funny.

    Two things are worth noting about the film's style. First, there is the strange and intriguing choice to stop the action during violent scenes and cuts away to native-style paintings of the same scenes. This seems at first glance like a bad idea, because it takes us out of the story just when we're meant to feel the true horror of the country's frontier violence. But it also gives a sense of something else — how the legend of this 19th-century confrontation might truly have been preserved through art and song in a nonliterate culture.

    Second, it is beautifully filmed — and not just for the sake of pretty pictures. Lush images of desert gold, green and red are not just grand vistas — they conceal the watching eyes and pointed spears of native scouts, keeping watch on the white intruders. We don't just behold the land's sweeping beauty; we scan it constantly for signs of danger. Sometimes the camera explores the faces of our four travelers, bringing us ever closer to their very different characters, even during long stretches when they're walking or riding silently through the countryside. The film has much in common with American Westerns, but with a greater sense of honesty about how the west was won. It has the same cinematic grandeur that people admire about John Ford's classic "The Searchers" without that film's racist reflexes. It's mythmaking of a much higher caliber.

    JANUARY 20, 2004
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK


    Reader comments on The Tracker:

  • the tracker   from ella, Aug 13, 2004
  • Tracker   from cain marsh, Dec 20, 2005
  • [no subject]   from some one, Aug 11, 2006
  • [no subject]   from , Jun 24, 2008
  • The Tracker...   from Gerard Catherin, Jul 25, 2009
  • the tracker   from me the coloniel , Feb 11, 2010
  • tracker soundtrack   from Anton, Apr 5, 2011
  • re: the tracker soundtrack   from Anton, Apr 8, 2011

  • Post a comment on "The Tracker"