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Wake in Fright

7.61 h 48 min197118
In this classic, broiling Australian thriller, an exasperated schoolteacher finds himself stranded in the dusty outback town of Bundanyabba, where the growing isolation and unhinged locals begin to eat away at his sanity.
Ted Kotcheff
Donald PleasenceGary BondChips Rafferty
English [CC]
Audio Languages

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Supporting actors
Sylvia KayJack Thompson
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Prime Video (streaming online video)
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4.6 out of 5 stars

137 global ratings

  1. 75% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 17% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 3% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 0% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 5% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

Ian MuldoonReviewed in the United Kingdom on 29 June 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Stands up incredibly well after 45 years - modern masterpiece
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Doc Tydon (Donald Pleasance) muses at one point during an "all night session" of drinking and hunting, that civilisation (so-called) may be defined as a man in smoking jacket with the capacity to press a button that can kill a billion people. Doc's choice is the freedom to live in the outback as an alcoholic left alone by authorities to practice medicine without charge. At first glance, the response to this film can be of nodding superiority at the brutal lives of those depicted in the Australian "outback" who drink, gamble and carouse in a gross way. At first glance it is reminiscent of those depicted in Boorman's Deliverance but that film shows very little sympathy for the "mountain people". In Wake in Fright a much more complex approach is taken towards those who inhabit the savage landscape of the "outback". The characters are not without generosity and kindness and generally engage in self-harming behaviour rather behaviour which harms others. In this regard we only
have contrast the Kangaroo shoot in the film with the industrial slaughter of millions of animals for such products as hamburgers. Nor do we have to look far at the great Australian heroes of capitalism such as the Packers who have made their fortunes, and continue to make their fortunes from gambling.Australians lose something approaching $12 billion a year on poker machines. In contrast, two up, as shown in Wake in Fright is perhaps the fairest gambling of all, where the winners and losers are in plain sight, and the odds are fifty/fifty. In short, Wake in Fright is a very interesting examination of a part of Australian society in its complexity. Admittedly, because we are introduced to the outback through the eyes of the teacher, the mood is menacing, but by the end of the film that menace has dissipated and is replaced by a new understanding. The teacher returns it is true because he is bonded to do so, but he seems now a wiser and better man with a greater generosity of spirit.Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world, it would be foolish to take the mis en scene of Wake in Fright as typical. Nevertheless it's real. As is in the closing minutes of the film, where our "hero" is returning by train to his outback school after Xmas holidays, and a traveller up the front of his carriage yells out "Like a beer Mate" which our hero accepts graciously and with a renewed
understanding of himself and his adopted country. A brilliant film, with not a wasted scene, which holds up incredibly well since its production in 1971. A tribute also to the Australian National Film Archive for its preservation of this masterpiece.
12 people found this helpful
Arch StantonReviewed in the United Kingdom on 14 February 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
Yabba Dabba Do
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A teacher, stuck in an out~backwater school goes to Sydney for the Christmas holidays. At least that's the plan, but unfortunately he stops over in the town of Bundanyabba (A.K.A. The Yabba for short) and never quite makes it. Unfortunately fate plays him a bum note and he ends up spending his time, coerced by the locals, into some sort of existential self discovery into his own heart of darkness, during some regrettable lost weekend.
Will the locals accept him? And if so, can he escape their acceptance, and then accept what he learns about himself along the way..?

This is an absolute cracker it really is, just a joy from start to finish. Yes, at times it's uncomfortable viewing, with unsettling characters, and even more unsettling sequences. But don't be put off by that, because it's overall message (at least for me) is one of discovery, understanding and enlightenment.
Which all makes a film about beer drinking and kangaroo hunting sound very high brow doesn't it? But just watch it and hopefully you'll see what I mean.
The acting is extremely good from all concerned, some of which is delivered by none actors, especially during the gambling sequence, which just makes it all the more impressive for it.
On a final note it maybe worth mentioning that the 'kangaroo hunting' contained may upset some viewers.

The Masters of Cinema Blu Ray looked spot on to me, with several short documentaries as extras and a commentary track.

15 people found this helpful
Hank KnowlesReviewed in the United Kingdom on 07 September 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
a truly extraordinary film
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This is an amazing film, the level of tension rises to a high level from the very start and stays taut throughout, the *fright* of the title being an ever present fear, wakened early and then reawakened with every passing moment. There are some graphic and distressing scenes, but this was very much part of the film-making and it's worth listening to the commentary or some of the extras to get a feeling for how the piece as a whole was conceived and realised. An interesting note was how this film (when released in early 70s) was not well liked by the Australian public because they felt it didn't represent their culture correctly, but as the film-makers say: it's not actually about Australia so much as about modern life and modern recklessness in general, it just so happens that the book it was based on was written by an Australian, so the story itself is set there. For me this comes through clearly in the film. It's not about one particular people, it's about all of us.
Burt McReviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 July 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
Bad dreams
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Wake in fright is an appropriate name for this film because just like those bad dreams you get where you cant seem to escape or get anywhere in them then this is the sutuation presenting an English schoolteacher teaching in the middle of nowhere who is only to happy to get back to civillization and the city without wanting to spoil any bit of the film his plans go slightly arry when he lands in a town where he is meant to catch his flight back to Sydney the next day.

The settings and camera work are superb and really help to potray what it must be like to live in such an isolated area cut off from large towns and cities.

This film will draw you into the settings it contains a rather scary role by Donald Pleasence of halloween who is alot more gung ho than his character in halloween also Gary Bond the main character is superb,

Picture is brilliant as is the sound it really is amazing that you can now watch this and other great films from this long ago snd beyond in such quality.
One person found this helpful
halloomeeReviewed in the United Kingdom on 05 December 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent movie. Holds up very well after all these ...
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Excellent movie.

Holds up very well after all these years.

It is not a flattering portrait of Australian life in the "outback" that's for sure, but that wasn't the point.

Perfectly cast, interesting story, the Masters of Cinema release has some insightful extras & dual format is always good value.

2 people found this helpful
NeilMcCauley67Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 October 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
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The best Australian film of all time? Certainly a very good candidate. Donald Pleasance best film? A very good candidate.
One person found this helpful
thomasReviewed in the United Kingdom on 09 March 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Makes you think - and amazing scenery and cinematography
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Draws you in, makes you think about lives less normal, "misfits", and the likely mistaken assumption that we all have to follow the beaten path in life. Absolutely worth watching.
DanuelReviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 February 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Australian gem and Outback craziness
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Any one who wants a good aussie film watch this. Fun to watch and well filmed.
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