“I just want to be by myself!” – Robyn Davidson
How many of us have had this thought and how many have deliberately and consciously pursued it as a goal in life?
In 1977, young Australian woman Robyn Davidson set out to trek 2700 kms across the Australian desert, from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean accompanied only by her loyal dog and four unpredictable camels. A journey that is punctuated by a National Geographic photographer whose presence is reluctantly yet pragmatically tolerated.
Why this journey? Well in her own words, “Why not”.
She exhibits no great fear for such a perilous journey, yet does not undertake the journey unprepared or in the pursuit of fame, fortune or notoriety, it’s purely personal.
Fundamentally, it is to distance herself from the human world. A world in which she is neither happy or comfortable. Rather, she seeks the simple loyalty and acceptance of her animals and to be singularly one with her environment.
Many people she meets along the way are either confused or amused about the reason or motivation for such a journey. Few understand, let alone accept, her desire to simply be alone with her thoughts. There are however, those that while they don’t condone such a dangerous undertaking are non-judgemental and generous in their support non the same.
It’s a reasonable expectation that solo walk across the desert is not going to be rich with dialogue. The movie is carried by the performance of the lead character (Mia Wasikowska) spectacular outback scenery, aerial photography that lends perspective to the enormity of the journey and an ever-present sound track. The dialogue that exists is compact, strategic, revealing and often amusing.
The scenery and vision is spectacular and a faithful reproduction of actual places, events and characters from the original National Geographic article.
Tracks sets the expectation of a journey and delivers one. Not only the obvious one of the physical trek but also the personal journeys of the two lead characters.
Robyn coming to terms with things in her past and her relationship to the rest of the world and Rick Smolan (Adam Driver) the national Geographic photographer as he comes to understand and ultimately accept the way in which Robyn interacts with the world and the people within it.
As a movie it’s not a roller coaster ride, more a constant steady progression, dare I say, one step at a time to an end goal, with highlights, revelations and learnings along the way.