Thursday, February 11, 2016

Tracks

Tracks tells the true story of Robyn Davidson, the young Australian woman who in 1977 walked 1,700 miles across the Australian desert, with four camels and a dog for company, just for the heck of it.

In her words, "I just want to be alone."

This movie isn't totally accurate to the truth, but strangely enough, I don't much care. I'll will leave it at that, and not compare the film to reality. Robyn, played by , is in need of money to begin her journey, so at the suggestion of a friend of a friend -- a blundering, overly talkative American photographer named Rick () -- she writes to National Geographic to ask for funding. They give it to her, on the condition that she allows a photographer to meet her occasionally on her journey to take pictures for the article. Guess who? It seems that Robyn will never get away from people for long enough; the introvert's eternal struggle.

Later, Robyn would write the article that accompanied Rick Smolan's photos in the magazine, and expand the story to a book.

Though there are many neat and thoughtful things about this movie, the one that I picked up on most was how perfect an example of an introvert Robyn is. To the extreme point of running off into the desert in an effort to avoid people (though that isn't the only reason she goes). The whole movie is from Robyn's perspective -- in the fullest sense of the word. We see only what she sees, but we also see things through her perspective. We interpret things how she does, we think the way she does, and we want the same things she does. Though I'm sure it's been tried, I have never seen a movie be successfully tell a story through a character's perspective before. This is the first, and it's a quite incredible result.

Like in the case of Rick for instance, when she and we first meet him, he makes an utterly dislikable introduction, loudly stumbling over a dumb quip about how big camels are like a stereotypical, painfully unaware American dweeb. We cringe heartily along with Robyn and wish he would leave. In reality, if we personally were there, would we still get the same exact impression of him? Probably not; but because this was Robyn's impression it is also ours. We are not obliged to come to our own conclusions about the world surrounding our heroine in this film, we only have to sit back and let hers soak in. When she feels claustrophobic around her group of friends, it's remarkably accurate to reality.

Extroverted? Ever wonder what it's like to be introverted? Watch this film and find out!

Because we are basically put into Robyn's mind for the duration of the film, we instantly accept her, and identify with her, and understand her almost perfectly. This result is, I'm sure, the product of many things going right and being done well -- the original novel, the adapted script, the directing -- but most obviously, it comes from the acting. Mia Wasikowska is superbly talented and endlessly convincing as this determined and restless young lady. She is delicate and quiet, with an inner strength bursting through. Most of the movie she is silently walking through the desert, and even when things happen she rarely speaks -- but watching her is more than enough. Seeing her adventure, though her eye as it were, it never even fringes on boring.

Though I did have a mild interest before, I admit it was Adam Driver's presence that gave me the final kick needed to actually watch this. I'm glad it did since it made me watch this movie that has so much more to it than a guy who was in Star Wars playing a supporting role, but his doofus of a character did end up being one of the great things about the film. As Robyn's perspective of Rick changes, so does ours, and we watch him mellow into the flow of the film until finally he fits. And when Robyn warms to him and is happy to see him, so are we, forgetting how annoying he was at first. It was so interesting to see, and Driver sold the changing perspective, being perfectly annoying, and then perfectly pleasant, and convincing us that he never really changed.

"Some nomads are at home everywhere. Others are at home nowhere, and I was one of those." - Robyn Davidson

The movie's introverted tone is solidified by elegant cinematography, ranging from gorgeous shots of the desert landscape, to elegant closeups of Mia's tanned squinting face and windblown hair. It's an artistic recreation of an event that was originally represented artistically, and it represents very well. There is also occasionally a thoughtful and profound narration that enhances the tale like a charm. The music also is quite lovely and very relaxing -- in an adventuring kind of way. That sounds like a contradiction, but really the film manages to find a place where the viewer can simultaneously relaxed and enjoying themselves while still being involved in the thrill and the life-threatening plights of the daring adventurer.

So obviously I expected to enjoy this or else I never would have turned it on, but as things are like to do when you go into them with no expectations or preconceptions, I was completely taken over and taken by surprise by this remarkable little adventure tale. Tracks is a deep tale extremely well-told, and endlessly respectful its determined heroine; a restless woman who left everything behind and risked it all for a chance to do something daring and hard, that would define her, knowing that the journey is always worth it, and, like most things in life, all it takes is one step at a time.

4 comments:

  1. *adds this to my To Be Watched list because Adam Driver*

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  2. Nice review! I watched a little bit of Tracks on Netflix but stopped 'cause I was tired. I'll have to revisit it and watch the rest!

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    1. Thank you Katy! I hope you do get a chance to get back to it -- it's definitely worth watching to the end. :)

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