Rating: * * * * * (out of 5)
Director: Nicholas Roeg
Running time: 100 minutes
Language: English
Currently showing
[See Japan Times movie listings]

The Story of the Weeping Camel

Rating: * * * * (out of 5)
Director: Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni
Running time: 91 minutes
Language: Mongolian
Opens Aug. 28
[See Japan Times movie listings]

It's been a dry, dull year for cinema, and there are days when it's tempting to think (insert old-fogey voice here), "They don't make 'em like they used to." That temptation is particularly strong when one sits through a screening of "Walkabout," the 1971 "lost" classic by cult director Nicholas Roeg ("Performance," "Don't Look Now").

Due to a dispute over rights, "Walkabout" wasn't released on video and, despite the acclaim it received upon release, has been largely unviewed over the past two decades. This revival comes to us in a pristine new print, but with five minutes of material trimmed from the 1970s release restored (mostly a beautiful scene in a lake, containing full-frontal shots of Jenny Agutter).

Shot on location in the Australian Outback -- often in places scouted by air, places where no white man had set foot before -- Roeg's tale is superficially simple: Two white, city-bred kids (Jenny Agutter and Roeg's own son, Luke) are abandoned by their seemingly mad father in the middle of nowhere, and try to find their way back to civilization. Forced to muster up their own survival skills, they find themselves totally unprepared for the brutal sun, the parched landscape and the endless horizons. The girl, in particular -- with a particularly British public-school sense of order -- seems more concerned that they don't scuff up their school uniforms. On the verge of death, they encounter a teenage Aborigine boy (David Gumpilil), who reluctantly becomes their guide.