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
Release Information 2004
New York, NY
Opens, Fri, Jan 16, 2004
New York, NY
Opens, Wed, Jan 28
Opens, Fri, Jan 30
CINEMA ART CENTER
Opens, Fri, Feb 20
Opens, Fri, Feb 27
RAFAEL FILM CENTER
San Rafal, CA
Opens, Fri, Mar 19
Santa Fe, NM
Opens, Fri, Mar 26
Open, Fri, Apr 9
Hilton Head, SC
Opens, Fri, Apr 16
THE HIPPODROME CINEMA
Open, Fri, Apr 23
RED VIC MOVIE HOUSE
San Francisco, CA
Opens, Fri, Apri 29
REAL ART WAYS
Opens, Fri, May 14
Opens, Fri, May 14
Santa Cruz, CA
Opens, Fri, May 28
Santa Fe, NM
Opens, Fri, May 28
THE CLEVELAND CINEMATHEQUE
Opens, Fri, June 4
RIALTO CINEMA LAKESIDE
Santa Rosa, CA
Opens, Fri, June 16
HONOLULU ACADEMY OF ARTS
Opens, Fri, June 20
ANTHOLOGY FILM ARCHIVES
New York, NY
Opens, Fr. Jul. 30
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
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
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
"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
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
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).