A father ‘shockingly abandons’ his children

I can’t claim to be a ‘film buff’, indeed I find many modern films unwatchable due to their absurd depictions of the natures of men and women. Most years I watch three films, or even fewer. But I have a soft spot for films made before 1980, when more honest films were made. One is the Nic Roeg gem Walkabout, released in 1971, starring a young Jenny Agutter and David Gulpipil. I was 14 when it was released, and I first saw it two or three years later. It remains one of my favourite films.

I see from the Daily Mail TV guide that the film is to be broadcast on BBC1 at 00:05 – a minute or two from now – and I look forward to watching it again, for the first time in many years. The point of this blog post is not to ramble on about my interest in this film, but to alert you to the Daily Mail review of the film (p.47, for those of you with a copy of the guide), which I have very good reason to believe was penned by a journalist of the female persuasion:

Nic Roeg’s mysterious, challenging drama stars Jenny Agutter and Luc Roeg as two children stranded in the Australian outback after they are shockingly abandoned by their father…

How, you might reasonably ask, did the children’s father ‘shockingly abandon’ his children? The ‘abandonment’ takes place after he drives the children in the family’s VW Beetle many miles into the outback. In the most powerful moment in the film, not long after the start, as his children were playing near the car, and for reasons unexplained in the film – but clearly related to a mental breakdown – he set fire to the car, then committed suicide by shooting a bullet into his brain from a handgun. If you’re looking for proof that men’s value as human beings is limited to their utility to women and children, I can’t think of a better illustration than the Daily Mail review of this iconic film. The man’s violent death at his own hands is clearly of no consequence whatsoever.

Good night. Sleep well.

About Mike Buchanan

I'm a men's human rights advocate, writer, and publisher. My primary focus is leading the political party I launched in 2013, Justice for Men & Boys (and the women who love them). I still work actively on two campaigns I launched in early 2012, Campaign for Merit in Business and the Anti-Feminism League. In 2014 I launched The Alternative Sexism Project, aiming to raise public understanding that the sexism faced by men and boys has far more grievous consequences than the sexism faced by women and girls.
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  • It’s funny that, Mike because I’m even less of a film buff than you. I don’t think I’ve watched a film since last century but Walkabout is my all time favourite. I was seven when I first saw it and I was absolutely captivated by Lucien John’s performance. Though a few years older than me in real life, he was the same age as I was at the time in the film when I first saw it. He is actually the director, Nicolas Roeg’s son. The cinematography by Max L Raab is absolutely wonderful and should you ever have the opportunity to see it on the big screen, you should.

    The film does not follow James Vance Marshall’s book and so there is no plane crash. Instead Roeg takes us on a much more altogether sinister story which does not have convenient explanations and that is what makes it so good. It starts with a voice saying “Faites vos jeux monsieurs, mesdames” (Place your bets gentleman and ladies) from behind a symbolic brick wall. We don’t know the father’s intentions…we are only given clues. We only catch a fleeting glimpse of the wife/ mother in the family. Clearly they are well off but when the man of the family arrives home he and his wife don’t even look at or speak to each other and there is clearly something wrong.

    Perhaps the man’s business has gone wrong and he’s going to lose it all…we’re not told.

    The aborigine saves her and her brother’s life but she treats him like filth. “Yes, water” she sneers as if he is her slave.

    The walkabout is what an aborigine boy does as a rite of passage into adulthood. He has to fend for himself and come back to marry. If he is rejected then the only thing he can do to avoid the humiliation is to end his life.

    So after he’s done that, we find ourselves back in the same kitchen we started off in having gone full circle. Only this time, the girl is now in charge and instead of her father coming home it’s her husband. He starts off on how he’s been promoted and the same brick wall flashes before us and she ain’t listening….she’s wondering whether she might have been better off with the Aborigine boy.

    Into my heart an air that kills
    From yond far country blows:
    What are those blue remembered hills,
    What spires, what farms are those?

    That is the land of lost content,
    I see it shining plain,
    The happy highways where I went
    And cannot come again.
    (extract from A Shropshire Lad by A. E. Housman)

    final title:

    “Rien ne vas plus.” (No more bets)