Across acres of harsh, barren land in “somewhere in Australia”, 4 contrasting characters are on the verge of despair (except the tracker himself) attempt to apprehend an Aboriginal man who allegedly murdered a white woman. Rolf De Heer’s haunting film tackles the controversial issue of the complicated relationship between Aboriginals and white men during earlier times. The 4 characters: the tracker (David Gulpilil), the fanatic (Gary Sweet), the new guy (Damon Gameau) & the veteran (Grant Page) interact with each other in a queer manner; very few words are ever spoken between them but the silence between them highlights their differences.
The tracker (Gulpilil) is essential to not only the task but also to the movie itself. The tracker represents the good in man which was portrayed in ‘The Whipping Scene,’ when he refused to move ahead in order to wait for a fallen team member to catch up. His perseverance is admirable which is what triggers the follower to feel respect for him. The tracker is essentially the mastermind of the team but he plays the fool in order to trick the fanatic into thinking he was in control. The tracker is fair and does everything for a reason; he waits patiently for his chance to move and is cunning.
Strong minded and opinionated, the fanatic (Sweet) is commonly seen as the ‘evil guy’ of the movie. He represents the typical white man from Aboriginal & Australian past that constantly undermines Aboriginals. His role in the film was to highlight the good in both the tracker and the follower as his actions and sayings reflect his ‘evil’ character.
The follower (Gameau) is fundamentally a follower. At first he followed and mimicked the ways of the fanatic, aiding him with the taunting of a small Aboriginal tribe. But as the film progressed, the follower was subjected to the scene when the fanatic mercilessly murdered the small Aboriginal tribe, which forced him to realise the wrong...