Michael Cusumano here to talk about a quality title before the similar Wild completely overshadows it.
When people ask Robyn Davidson why she intends to trek across 1700 miles of punishing Australian desert with only four camels and her dog as company, she dodges the question or falls back on clichés like “Why not?” But even if Davidson is reluctant to spell out her motivation, director John Curran manages to make Robyn’s actions clear by tuning in the camera to her state of mind. In Tracks, the true story of Davidson’ 1977 journey, people are most often framed as mindless, swarming groups which descend on her, shattering her solitude. Journalists, tourists, even friends and family. They are all mobs. The sound design makes little attempt to separate their dialogue into discernable lines, letting them blend into a pack of chattering hyenas.
Having effectively put the audience on Robyn’s wavelength having her explain herself in words would be redundant. We too are ready to spend some time limited to the company of camels.
The obvious comparison for Tracks is to Into the Wild, the major difference being that where Into the Wild showed Christopher McCandless to be blithely overconfident, even reckless, in the face of nature, Tracks shows Robyn as clear-eyed about the dangers of her expedition. She has done the calculation and simply decided that, for her, it is worth the risk. [more...]