Review: The Tracker

Blu-ray & DVD: The Tracker (2002)

1922, Australia.

3 white men (The Fanatic, The Follower, The Veteran) are on horseback, while a native Australian tracker (the titular ‘The Tracker’) leads them on foot as they hunt down another native Australian man (The Fugitive) who is accused of murdering a white woman.

Their trek across the Australian outback shows the inner depths of their personalities coming to the fore as they get ever closer to their human prey.

The Tracker is low on dialogue, and uses songs sung by Archie Roach to further the narrative, as writer/director Rolf de Heer shows close-ups of the main characters faces as they make their way through the heat and desolation of the surrounding landscape.

The otherworldly atmosphere is also added to by the use of Peter Coad’s artwork, which either dissolves from, or into, the onscreen narrative. Often giving a surreal look to the violence as innocent people are slaughtered in the name of ‘justice’.

The performances are fantastic across the entire cast, with David Gulpilil showing a wide range of emotions that draws you into the plight of his character.

It is Gary Sweet however as ‘The Fanatic’ that both fascinated and outraged me in equal measure. Here is a character that is completely driven by his beliefs and does not care who, or what, gets in his way. I detested his character, yet Sweet’s performance kept me glued to the screen as I hoped that each passing turn in the undulating landscape would see his demise.

The Tracker is grim viewing; lives are ended needlessly, hope is in short supply, death seems inevitable with each footstep. Yet it kept me held fast in its grasp throughout the entire running time.

Short blasts of violence punctuate what is otherwise a dark, dreamlike narrative that flows with music and artwork. All the time showing long lingering close-ups of the characters faces and hinting at what thoughts lay behind their squinting eyes as the hot sun burns down on them.

Racism is at the core of The Tracker, and sadly, 16 years after its release, is still a subject that rears its ugly head in todays society.

The Tracker will elicit fear, hope, smiles, and tears. Put aside some time and take this journey with them, it’s one that you won’t forget.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • David Gulpilil: “I Remember…” – Exclusive featurette
  • Interview with Rolf De Heer and David Stratton from The Movie Show
  • Outtakes
  • Interviews on location
  • Peter Coad Featurette
  • Peter Coad paintings
  • 59th Venice International Film Festival 2002
  • World Premiere Adelaide Festival of Arts 2002
  • Melbourne International Film Festival 2002 – Opening Night Film
  • IF Awards 2002
  • AFI Awards 2002
  • Archie Roach Alien Invasion
  • music clip

Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Umbrella Entertainment.