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The Tracker

Year: 2001
Director: Rolf de Heer
Writer: Rolf de Heer
Cast: Gary Sweet, David Gulpilil

Another slice of Australiana from De Heer, and like most of his other work (Alexandra's Project, Bad Boy Bubby), its strength lies in its simplicity. Long pauses to linger over the landscape (whether it's the Flinders Ranges or the cheerfully catatonic Adelaide suburbs), characters with no names (other than The Fanatic and The Tracker) and a lyrical style make it a cinematic fable.

A small search party is tracking an aboriginal crime suspect through the South Australian bush in the late 1800's, consisting of a government officer, the Fanatic (Sweet), his two cohorts and their aboriginal tracker (Gulpilil).

As they close in on their prey, we get a glimpse of the same sort of have-to-interfere-because-they-can't-help-themselves mindset from the Fanatic as well as outright cold bloodedness; he regards aboriginal people they meet along the way as no more than inconvenient cattle, wantonly slaughtering them and leaving them as warnings to their brethren.

Eventually everyone snaps, including the junior team member and the Tracker himself, turning on The Fanatic with his own kind of justice.

It's a simple story and so is its point. Told in an accessible way, it's also presented with poetic beauty both in the script and the direction (including the camera tracking across traditional-style paintings to show you what's transpired).

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