ArtMattan Productions
-
home page
films index
ordering information
events
about us
contact us
links
-

THE TRACKER

The Tracker

The year is 1922 and The Tracker (David Gulpilil, Walkabout, Rabbit-Proof Fence) has the job of pursuing The Fugitive - an aborigine who is suspected of murdering a white woman - as he leads three mounted policemen: The Fanatic, The Follower and also The Veteran across the outback.

The Tracker, a mysterious and enigmatic figure whose true character remains unknown, assists them in their quest. As they move deeper into the bush and further away from civilization, the toxic forces of paranoia and violence begin to escalate, stirring up questions of what is black and what is white and who is leading whom. Their journey becomes an acrimonious and murderous trek that shifts power from one man to another, challenged by the indigenous people they come across as well as each other.

|Australia|2002|98 mins|Epic Drama|English|Rolf de Heer, dir.|
Winner Best Film, Best Actor (David Gulpilil), Australian Film Critic Circle.

"A stark moral fable told in the language of the sort of western Hollywood has stopped making, the Australian director Rolf de Heer's film The Tracker is constructed around a suite of 10 interlocking story-songs that simmer with political outrage. Composed by Graham Tardif, with lyrics by Mr. de Heer, and performed by Archie Roach, a husky-voiced Aboriginal singer, together they suggest an extended folk ballad in the mode of Curtis Mayfield's Superfly. The lyrics describe the oppression of Australian Aboriginals with the same mixture of sorrow and resistance that fueled the songs of Bob Marley." – The New York Times.

"[Gulpilil] is a commanding screen presence, and his character's abundant humanis makes him the film's moral compass." - Phildelphia Inquirer

Bonus Documentary with DVD: GULPILIL: ONE RED BLOOD
Australia, 2003, 56 mins, Documentary in English, Darlene Johnson, dir.

Legendary Aboriginal actor and Australian icon David Gulpilil's life has been one of dueling lifestyles, with his jet-setting movie star life on a completely different plane from his life as an Aboriginal village elder, and director Darlene Johnson manages to capture intimate details from both lifestyles in her 2003 biographical documentary Gulpilil: One Red Blood. At the age of 17, Gulpilil made history as the first Aboriginal actor to appear on film -- in Nicolas Roeg's 1971 Walkabout -- which, in turn, led to an historic acting career that culminated in his receiving numerous awards and an Order of Australia medal. All the while, Gulpilil remained true to his culture by accepting his tribal responsibilities, which include living in a primitive house and procuring his household's daily food and water. As Johnson films a number of very candid encounters with the actor in both settings -- David lives in a tent shed and is quite open about the lack of facilities in his abode and the exploitation he’s experienced during his career -- she documents the class differences that still exist between the indigenous population of Australia versus the relatively new white population.

35mm rental: $250
DVD sale: $245
DVD also includes Bonus Documentary Gulpilil: One Red Blood

Public libraries and K-12 DVD sale: $29.95

-
Theatrical Release Information 2004

CINEMA VILLAGE
New York, NY
Opens, Fri, Jan 16, 2004

PIONEER THEATER
New York, NY
Opens, Wed, Jan 28

FACETS CINEMATHEQUE
Chicago, IL
Opens, Fri, Jan 30

CINEMA ART CENTER
Huntington, NY
Opens, Fri, Feb 20

PARKWAY CINEMA
Mineapolis, MM
Opens, Fri, Feb 27

RAFAEL FILM CENTER
San Rafal, CA
Opens, Fri, Mar 19

THE SCREEN
Santa Fe, NM
Opens, Fri, Mar 26

KEY CINEMAS
Indianapolis, IN
Open, Fri, Apr 9

COLIGNY THEATRE
Hilton Head, SC
Opens, Fri, Apr 16

THE HIPPODROME CINEMA
Gainesville, FL
Open, Fri, Apr 23

RED VIC MOVIE HOUSE
San Francisco, CA
Opens, Fri, Apri 29


REAL ART WAYS
Hartford, CT
Opens, Fri, May 14

TIMES CINEMA
Milwaukee, WI
Opens, Fri, May 14


NICKELODEON THEATERS
Santa Cruz, CA
Opens, Fri, May 28

THE SCREEN
Santa Fe, NM
Opens, Fri, May 28

THE CLEVELAND CINEMATHEQUE
Cleveland, OH
Opens, Fri, June 4

RIALTO CINEMA LAKESIDE
Santa Rosa, CA
Opens, Fri, June 16


HONOLULU ACADEMY OF ARTS
Honolulu, HI
Opens, Fri, June 20


ANTHOLOGY FILM ARCHIVES
New York, NY
Opens, Fr. Jul. 30

FAIRFAX 3
Los Angeles, CA
Opens, Fri. Mar. 4, 2005


 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

January 16, 2004
MOVIE REVIEW | 'THE TRACKER'
A Ballad About Hunting a Fugitive and Finding Evil
By STEPHEN HOLDEN

stark moral fable told in the language of the sort of western Hollywood has stopped making, the Australian director Rolf de Heer's film "The Tracker" is constructed around a suite of 10 interlocking story-songs that simmer with political outrage. Composed by Graham Tardif, with lyrics by Mr. de Heer, and performed by Archie Roach, a husky-voiced Aboriginal singer, together they suggest an extended folk ballad in the mode of Curtis Mayfield's "Superfly." The lyrics describe the oppression of Australian Aboriginals with the same mixture of sorrow and resistance that fueled the songs of Bob Marley.

Set in 1922 in the outback, the story follows three mounted policemen and an Aboriginal tracker on a mission to bring to justice a black man accused of murdering a white woman. The self-consciously mythic film refuses to name any of its characters. The party's leader is a sadistic racist known simply as the Fanatic (Gary Sweet). And the clenched, contained fury of Mr. Sweet's performance makes this tight-lipped, trigger-happy character such a scary and repugnant figure that you can barely stand to look at him.

In the movie's most painful moment, the Fanatic casually massacres a group of innocent Aboriginals, then strings up their bodies, simply because they don't understand his language. Afterward, he lovingly cleans his gun and congratulates it for being so "well spoken" and says, "It's nice to have a comrade who speaks English."

The Fanatic is joined on his expedition by an old-timer called the Veteran (the leading Australian stuntman Grant Page) and a dewy-eyed new recruit, the Follower (Damon Gameau), who is increasingly outraged by the Fanatic's heartlessness.

Guiding the four into the wilderness is an English-speaking Aboriginal, the Tracker (David Gulpilil), a grizzled, enigmatic figure who serves as a bridge between the Aboriginal and white societies and whom the Fanatic views with deep suspicion. As he has in other other Australian films, including "Walkabout," "The Last Wave" and "Rabbit-Proof Fence," Mr. Gulpilil has the mystical aura of a man so profoundly in touch with the earth that he is omniscient and safe from harm.

As the search party forges farther into the outback, the Tracker, who appears to embrace both his tribal religion and Christianity, is by turns servile (he calls his white employers "Boss" and doesn't complain when put in chains) and cunning (an accident in which the Fanatic nearly drowns may not be an accident). The Tracker ultimately emerges as a figure of towering moral authority who exists almost beyond time. The fifth symbolic figure, whose face is shown in close-up at the start of the movie but who is seen again only briefly at the end, is the Fugitive (Noel Wilton).

"The Tracker," which opens today in New York, could be seen as a sequel or a companion piece to "Rabbit-Proof Fence" and is set nine years earlier. The Fanatic's view of the Australian native peoples is a more virulent variation of the paternalism voiced by racist government officials in the other movie. But here the genocidal impulse isn't to blend the races until blacks disappear but to kill them at the least provocation.

The primal struggles among the members of the search party are extremely cut and dried, and the outcome quite predictable. The first major conflict erupts when the Veteran is seriously wounded by a spear that comes from nowhere, and the Fanatic decides that he must be left to face certain death. That heartless decision is only the first of many that inspire the Follower to rebel, even though the punishment for mutiny is death.

The film's mythic point of view is evocatively underlined by the substitution of illustrations for live action whenever violence erupts. These stylized images by the Australian artist Peter Coad create an aesthetic distance from the cruelty, lending the atrocities the stature of events in a historical mural that freezes the past into an eternal present.

THE TRACKER
Written and directed by Rolf de Heer; director of photography, Ian Jones; edited by Tania Nehme; songs and music by Graham Tardif, performed by Archie Roach; produced by Mr. de Heer and Julie Ryan; released by ArtMattan Productions. At the Cinema Village, 22 East 12th Street, Greenwich Village. Running time: 90 minutes. This film is not rated. WITH: David Gulpilil (the Tracker), Gary Sweet (the Fanatic), Damon Gameau (the Follower), Grant Page (the Veteran) and Noel Wilton (the Fugitive).

 

African Film