Featuring a mesmerizing and fearless performance from David Gulpilil (Walkabout, Rabbit-Proof Fence), THE TRACKER is at once a mystery, an adventure, and a pointed commentary on the atrocities committed against the Aborigi... more »nes. In 1922, an Aboriginal tracker leads two mounted policeman and a civilian through the Australian Outback on the hunt for a black fugitive who is charged with killing a white woman. The group struggles through extremely rugged terrain inhabited by hostile aborigines, wild animals, and poisonous reptiles. Though treated as a virtual slave by the white men leading the search, it becomes clear that the Tracker has his own agenda. Through massacre and murder the party falls into disarray, stirring up questions of what is black and what is white and who is leading whom.« less
"All Men Choose The Path They Walk" ~ "Somewhere In Austra
Brian E. Erland | Brea, CA - USA | 10/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have been a big fan of Australian movies since '71 when I first saw a very young aborigine named David Gulpilil in 'Walkabout' and have followed his film career ever since. He had a major role in one of my all-time favorite movies 'The Last Wave' in '79, made a very brief appearance at the beginning of 'The Right Stuff' in '83, a cameo in 'Crocodile Dundee' in '86, another cameo in 'Dead Heart' in '97 and then landed another major role in '02 in the highly acclaimed 'Rabbit-Proof Fence.'
Oddly enough David's signature role was filmed in the same year as 'Rabbit-Proof Fence.' I'm talking about a movie that is totally unknown the the U.S.A. but was awarded the 'Best Film' award and 'Best Actor' award for David by the Australian Film Critics Circle. The film is 'The Tracker.'
This is one of my favorite movies about the Australian aborigines. The year is 1922 and David, known only as 'the Tracker' is guiding three white officials through the outback in search of another aborigine accused of killing a white woman. During the journey 'the Tracker' is forced to endure not only derogatory treatment from the 'the Fanatic' in charge (Gary Sweet) but must witness in silence the arbitary killing of innocent aborigines encountered along way. As tensions continue to build 'the Tracker' quietly plans his revenge and in the end true justice, aboriginal justice, is dealt out.
David Gulpilil dominates this film, he's absolutely amazing! Every expression, every gesture is filled with understanding, rage and humor. This is in every way his movie. Saying that, I also want to make mention of the wonderful supporting role played by Damon Gamean as 'the Follower.' His inner journey of personal transformation is extraordinary and a perfect counterbalance to David.
This film was both written and directed by Rolf De Heer. I'm not familiar with anything else he's done, but I'm certainly going to check into his previous credits. Another important element to this film was one of the most amazing soundtracks I've ever heard. The songs and music were composed by Graham Tardif and sung by Archie Roach. Unlike alot of soundtracks that are used only as background music to enhance the story, here they were an absolutely integral part of the movie. As the band of four traveled through the Outback the music and lyrics told the history and longing of the aboriginal people. I've never experienced anything more moving and emotional in a film.
My highest possible rating! A film to be bought and enjoyed over and over again!!"
Clash in Australia: Aborigine and White
Gerard D. Launay | Berkeley, California | 01/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's impossible not to be a David Gulpilil fan...he can do no wrong in any film. He exudes an aboriginal dignity in the same way that Toshire Mifune exudes a samurai dignity. This is a film about his assignment as a tracker hired to find an Aborigine criminal. The film examines who is the criminal and who is the innocent...who has standing in the bush wilderness and who does not. A very interesting film and well worth purchasing."
The many tracks to justice
Stephen A. Haines | Ottawa, Ontario Canada | 03/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When Philip Noyce directed "Rabbit-proof Fence" - a film about Aborigine children escaping white captivity - he hired David Gulpilil in the role of the "black tracker". With forty thousand years of experience in the Australian bush under their belts [sic?], the Aborigines are trackers without peer. The European invaders quickly learned to use them in tracing missing children, criminals and other tasks. In the "Special Features" of "Rabbit-proof Fence", Noyce comments on his sudden awareness that Gulpilil virtually redefined the role. With no lines - none are needed - David makes clear that an Aborigine would find the children. But he "misses" them in passing, glancing over his shoulder to where they were hiding in the scrub. He presumed the real tracker sent after them had done something similar. In this film, David Gulpilil is the lead role, and clearly defines it in his own way. Even writer-director de Heer is unlikely have the savvy to devise a script to achieve what Gulpilil accomplishes here.
The story is of three whites, two of whom are policemen, to chase down an Aborigine murder suspect. The leader, a fanatic racist, is no exaggeration as Australian history has shown. The young policeman is an eager innocent, but flexible. To him it's part of a new job. The third white is a "squatter", conscripted to fill out the group. As "The Tracker", Gulpilil must lead them over a sparse landscape with few clues to the suspect's passage. The trail is scanty, the man elusive, and the whites are totally dependent on Gulpilil's abilities. In one scene, as the group arrives at the edge of a stony plain, the young policeman objects that there's no trail to follow. The expanse of pebbles is extensive and no sign of human passage can be made out. Gulpilil wearily points out the clues to the young man, who retires abashed as The Tracker smiles slyly. The hunt continues.
White-Aborigine relations are a sorry record, as this film dramatically portrays. Gulpilil is scorned and badgered, even by the men who so sorely need his skills. The hunters encounter a group of Aborigines, and the head policeman banters and abuses them mercilessly. Although Gulpilil warns that the Aborigines not only cannot speak English, even he doesn't understand their "different language, Boss". Resentful and frustrated, the officer shoots each member of the group. Holding up his pistol, he declares it to be "the language of this country". The hunt continues.
Director de Heer takes full advantage of the vast beauty of the Australian bush with compelling scenes. His best talents, however, come to light with the many close-ups of the tracker and white pursuers. David's expression at the killing of his fellow Aborigines is enigmatic, and he remains stoic throughout the film - until the end. Even when the leader threatens Gulpilil with taking "your own ears back with me" if they don't catch the suspect. He shackles Gulpilil who must now carry a length of chains while finding the trail. As the group closes with the fugitive, the tension builds under de Heer's skilful touch. The hunt continues.
De Heer adds some interesting nuances to this film. There are scenes introduced or portrayed by Aborigine-style paintings. The opening is one such, as are the killings of the Aborigine group and others. Additionally, de Heer uses Archie Roach, one of Australia's "stolen generation" to provide the background music - not quite Aborigine and not quite European. The effect adds fresh levels of intensity to an already gripping story. And the fugitive? De Heer's inventive story concludes with a surprising twist, one that North Americans may find daunting to comprehend. All the more reason to see this film for its revelations. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]"
Illuminating trek through the Australian outback
Cory D. Slipman | Rockville Centre, N.Y. | 09/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rolf de Heer's outstanding film, "The Tracker" is a visually stunning odyssey through the remote, unforgiving Australian bush and liberally filled with social commentary.
The year is 1922 and a band of three mounted policeman is being lead by an aboriginal known as The Tracker, played by David Gulpilil. They are following another native Australian accused of murdering a white woman. The band is lead by The Fanatic played by Gary Sweet, a murderous bigoted Australian, who thinks of native Aboriginals as subhuman. Along the trail he displays his ruthlessness by shooting innocent blacks the group come across. Also along for the ride is a young naive Damon Gameau whose morality has yet to be corrupted towards racial inequality.
As the group move deeper and deeper into Aboriginal territory and away from civilization, The Tracker who is chained by the Fanatic like a dog, begins to follow his own agenda within the pursuit. As they continue, the Follower is forced to choose between the intolerant racist ideology of the Fanatic and fair and broad minded views of the Tracker.
Rolf de Heers brilliant depiction of the despicable racism evidenced in Australia at that time serves as a reminder that the dehumanization of anyone regardless of their differences cannot be condoned."
Not many movies get my five star
Linda Jo Hunter | West Coast | 09/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I usually prefer to read, but as a tracker of animals and people, this movie spoke to me in a non-literal way. The music, the scenery and the main actor combined to make a piece of moving art, not just a movie. The ending made up for all the cruel things and the tracking was realistic and intense. I loved the way they showed how the tracker was seeing instead of just looking. I will just add that as Bob Brady, another reviewer, liked it that is high praise indeed as I know him to be an exceptional tracker."