Wake in Fright | Chicago Reader

Wake in Fright

Ted Kotcheff (First Blood, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz) directed this forgotten Australian masterpiece (1971) about an arrogant Sydney schoolteacher (Garry Bond) who's slowly driven mad after a prolonged stay in the Yabba, a desolate mining town in the middle of the Australian outback. After gambling away every dollar he has, Bond succumbs to the aggressive hospitality of the locals, and they condition him to their brutish lifestyle, which seems to consist mostly of constant drinking, random fistfights, anarchic destruction of other people's property, and kangaroo hunting. A Conradian parable of a man succumbing to the wild, the film is remarkable for its raw, pointed depiction of human behavior. Push a man too far, Kotcheff suggests, and you'll find the beast concealed behind the mask of propriety.

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