Wake in fright

Wake in Fright (also known as Outback) is a 1971 Australian thriller film directed by Ted Kotcheff, about a young school teacher from Sydney who descends into personal moral degradation after finding himself stranded in a brutal, menacing town in outback Australia. It stars Gary Bond, Donald Pleasence and Chips Rafferty. The screenplay, written by Evan Jones, is based on Kenneth Cook’s 1961 novel of the same name. For many years, Wake in Fright enjoyed a reputation as Australia’s great “lost film” because of its unavailability on VHS or DVD, as well as its absence from television broadcasts. In mid-2009, however, a thoroughly restored digital re-release was shown in Australian theatres to considerable acclaim. Later that year it was issued commercially on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Wake in Fright is now considered a seminal film of the Australian New Wave and has been ranked by critics as one of the greatest Australian films. Wake in Fright found a favourable public response in France, where it ran for five months, and in the United Kingdom. However, despite receiving such critical support at Cannes and in Australia, Wake in Fright suffered poor domestic box-office returns. Although there were complaints that the film’s distributor, United Artists, had failed to promote the film successfully, it was also thought that the film was “perhaps too uncomfortably direct and uncompromising to draw large Australian audiences”. During an early Australian screening, one man stood up, pointed at the screen and protested “That’s not us!”, to which Jack Thompson yelled back “Sit down, mate. It is us.”A made-for-television film remake is set to be released in 2017.

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