Robert here w/ Distant Relatives, exploring the connections between one classic and one contemporary film.
Western people have something of a parasitic relationship with nature. But that's okay. If Werner Herzog is to believed, nature doesn't much like us either. The two films we look at this week, Nicolas Roeg's Walkabout and Kelly Reichardt's Meek's Cutoff look at the relationship of people trapped within the land and how it compares to their relationship with people of the land or who represent the land in their foreignness and threat to those considered 'civilized.' Along the way issues of trust, understanding, innocence, power, gender and whether one can overcome the attitudes and beliefs into which they're boxed, are encountered along with predictably arrid conditions.
Walkabout starts to roll when a teenaged girl and her younger brother (Jenny Agutter and Luc Roeg) are violently abandoned in the Australian outback. They wander lost for a good deal of time until they encounter an Aborigine (David Gulpilil) who becomes something of their guide despite the great distance in culture and understanding between the three. Meek's Cutoff follows a wagon train lost on the Oregon Trail. Of no help is their wilderness guide Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood), though of some help may be an Indian they've captured. Leading the contingent to trust in and follow their captives lead, though more out of desperation than principle is one woman, Emily (Michelle Williams).
Both films could be read as tales of reversal of fortune where individuals from the intruding aggressor class find themselves at the will of someone they consider strange and savage...