Walkabout is a tepid artistic effort about two children, lost in the Australian wilds, who are befriended by an aborigine. Nicolas Roeg directed and photographed on authentic locations. Roeg’s bag is photography, but pretty pictures alone cannot sustain – and, in fact, inhibit – this fragile and forced screen adaptation of a James Vance Marshall novel.
Apparent intent was to begin the film with jarring montage of urban life, so as to contrast better with the later wasteland footage. Jenny Agutter and Lucien John (Roeg’s own son) find themselves alone in the desert after father John Meillon tries to kill the boy and then shoots himself after setting fire to his car.
On the kids’ long trek in search of civilization, they encounter David Gulpilil, an aborigine who guides them towards rescue.
In an effort to pump up the plot, Roeg resorts to ad nauseam inserts of insects, reptiles and assorted wild beasts, in varying stages of life and decay.