Posted October 3, 2014 by Daniel Hodgson in
The final shot of the film is pure joy, capturing a moment of blissful tranquility for someone who journeyed into the night of herself for it.
Tracks is a the journey through the heart of the Australian desert, as well an emotional journey through the heart of a brave young woman who crosses that desert on foot, on her own.
The adventure story is based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by Robyn Davidson, expanded from her article for National Geographic. Robyn spent over a year learning to tame and train feral camels to carry supplies for her expedition. In return for working at the ranch, Robyn was given four camels, Dookie, Bub, Zeleika, and Goliath.
A photographer for National Geographic, Rick Smolan (Adam Driver), suggests that Robyn write to his magazine for sponsorship, who supply her with everything she needs, and sends Rick to meet with her at checkpoints to take pictures of her 1,700 mile journey. They have a brief affair, and Rick is smitten with her, but Robyn is independent, and focused on her journey.
The trek across the scorching hot, unforgiving desert is punctuated with unexpected encounters and life-threatening ordeals. A snake crawls across Robyn’s body, who sleeps soundly. Wild camels roam the land, mean, aggressive beasts who will attack her own camels, and she is instructed to shoot them dead if she sees them charging at her.
But those are isolated incidents in a long journey. Overall, the pacing is unhurried, slow but deliberate, and the mood of the film is meditative and surreal. Robyn brings her memories with her into the desert, and her dreams linger into the waking world. An only child, orphaned at a young age, her journey into solitude brings about catharsis for her past.
Along the way, Robyn meets an Aboriginal Elder, “Mr. Eddie” (Roly Mintuma), who escorts her across sacred ground otherwise forbidden to women. Mr. Eddie speaks little English, but their brief time together is the longest, closest connection she has to humanity on her nine month journey.
The end of her long, hard voyage, taken only for its own sake, is satisfying. The final shot of the film is pure joy, capturing a moment of blissful tranquility for someone who made a hard journey through herself, and at last found an oasis.