Tracker, The (Blu-ray) (2002)

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Released 2-May-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-David Gulpilli: “I Remember . . .” (10:16)
Interviews-Crew-Rolf de Heer and Peter Coad on The Movie Show (9:28)
Outtakes-(15:16)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Interviews on Location (36:05)
Featurette-Peter Coad (16:40)
Featurette-59th Venice International Film Festival, 2002 (6:00)
Featurette-World Premier Adelaide Festival of Arts, 2002 (11:21)
Featurette-Melbourne International Film Festival, 2002 (7:13)
Featurette-IF Awards, 2002 (8:28)
Featurette-AFI Awards, 2002 (1:10)
Music Video-Archie Roach “Alien Invasion”
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 98:06
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Rolf de Heer
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring David Gulpilil
Gary Sweet
Damon Gameau
Grant Page
Noel Wilton
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Graham Tardif


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     1922, somewhere in Australia. Three white policemen, The Fanatic (Gary Sweet), The Follower (Damon Gameau) and The Veteran (Grant Page), guided by The Tracker (David Gulpilil), are in the bush hunting an Aboriginal man (Noel Wilton) who is on the run after being accused of murdering a white woman. The Fanatic is disparaging of “savages” and “blacks” and is obsessed with finding the fugitive no matter what it takes, including killing other Aboriginals they come across in the bush. The Follower, new to the police service, initially takes his lead from The Fanatic but soon becomes disenchanted, then distressed, by The Fanatic’s attitude to, and mistreatment of, The Tracker and the other Aboriginals. The Veteran is saddened, but silent having seen it all before. The Tracker is ostensibly in a powerless position, but the further the group travel into the rugged outback ranges the more the balance of power shifts.

     The Tracker is uncomplicated, simple and sparse filmmaking. There are no flashbacks, nor diversions, no back story, no return to civilization. The film starts with the hunting group already in the bush and, other than a short caption identifying each of the four participants, this film is simply a journey in chronological order across the ranges, dry riverbeds, waterholes and scrub of the Australian bush. There is little dialogue, and often the dialogue that occurs is faintly heard from off-screen or from under the music. Instead, there are the stunning widescreen images of figures crossing the arid landscape, often accompanied only by the poignant music sung by Archie Roach. Frequently these landscapes form or dissolve into vivid paintings by Peter Coad; the paintings are also used to show the violence that occurs in the story off camera. These paintings, the music and the long, slow takes which often end in a close-ups of the face of one of the characters, are disorienting and make the events feel almost dreamlike. Other than The Follower, whose attitudes change markedly during the film, there is no character story arc; instead the story is all about the interaction of the four characters, a story that is played out slowly, gradually revealing the shifts in power between the four men.

     The Tracker was written and directed by Rolf de Heer, who also wrote the lyrics to the music composed by Graham Tardif and sung by Archie Roach. It is a powerful, atmospheric, moving, almost mystic film with beautiful cinematography by Ian Jones. At the 2002 AFI Awards the film was nominated in six categories but lost best film to Rabbit-Proof Fence while in both best director and best cinematography categories it lost to Beneath Clouds. However David Gulpilil won for best actor, and his performance is superb; the expressions on his face tell us everything we need to know about what he is thinking whether he is watching the massacre of his people or quietly getting his own way. For it soon becomes clear that while The Fanatic has the white man’s power and the guns it is The Tracker who is calling the shots, a fact that becomes more obvious as the film progresses. Gary Sweet is also fabulous as the thoroughly unpleasant, bigoted, violent and obsessive man who, however, does not believe in his own mind, or accept, that he is any of those things. His monologue towards the end of the film when the tables have been turned, which is the longest section of dialogue in the film by far, almost gains our sympathy, which is an amazing piece of acting given that we know what he has done.

     The Tracker is a superb film, majestic in its power and beauty and with themes and images which remain in your mind long after the credits roll. A fabulous piece of Australian filmmaking.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Tracker is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code. This Blu-ray is advertised as a “brand new 4K scan & restoration from the film’s inter-positive & remastered audio”.

     Filmed in the Gammon Ranges and the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary of South Australia the hills, gullies, scrub, riverbeds and waterholes look beautiful with natural colours of green, blue, sand, brown and ochre, while some of the images within the film, such as the hanging man silhouetted in the red rising sun, are stunning. Close-ups are strong, showing every line, whisker and hair on The Tracker’s face, the detail of dirt and dust on clothing. The colours of the Peter Coad paintings are bright and vibrant. Blacks are solid and shadow detail fine, skin tones natural, contrast and brightness consistent. I might have seen one small mark, and one frame seemed to jump, but otherwise I did not notice any marks or artefacts.

     There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is English DTS-HD MA 5.1.

     Dialogue is clear when it is intended to be as at times it is deliberately masked by the music or by being muffled, heard from out of frame. There are not a lot of effects; horses’ hooves on the rocks and insects at night while the gunshots when they occur are loud and have depth. For a lot of the time the sound in the rears and surrounds is the sad, melancholy and haunting voice of Archie Roach singing the lyrics of Rolf de Heer to the music composed by Graham Tardif. The subwoofer was hardly used, nor did it need to be, but it did add depth to the score.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Most of these extras were on the previous DVD release 15 years ago from Madman, which was reviewed on this site here. They are still, however, worth watching and there is one new extra as marked below.

David Gulpilil : “I Remember . . .” (10:16) *NEW*

     David Gulpilil takes a drive into the ranges, revisiting some of the film’s locations while talking about the land itself, the film and race relations.

Interview with Rolf de Heer & David Stratton from The Movie Show (9:28)

     A rather misleading description. This is really the review of The Tracker by Margaret and David on The Movie Show plus short interviews by David with Rolf de Heer and Peter Coad.

Outtakes (15:16)

     Rolf de Heer introduces and adds comments to the “David Gulpilil Blooper Reel”, scenes which show the difficulty of laughing on cue and outtakes. Amusing.

Interviews on Location (36:05)

     The title does not do this extra justice. It is really an excellent on location “making of” with extensive on-set behind the scenes footage of the cast and crew at work including everyone carrying gear into some of the remote locations. There are comments by director Rolf de Heer, cast David Gulpilil, Gary Sweet and Damon Gameau, cinematographer Ian Jones and sound recordist / designer James Currie. Items covered include the story, the characters and the cast, shooting in remote locations with a small crew, race relations.

Peter Coad Featurette (16:40)

     An intriguing look at how artist Peter Coad produced the paintings which feature in the film. He is shown drawing and sketching on set, interacting with the cast and director, the works of art being painted in his studio and the filming of the paintings for the movie.

59th Venice International Film Festival, 2002 (6:00)

     Rolf de Heer, David Gulpilil, Gary Sweet and Damon Gameau at the Venice Film Festival.

World Premier Adelaide Festival of Arts, 2002 (11:21)

     The rehearsal and then the premier of the film in Adelaide with a live performance of the music by Archie Roach and the band with the director and cast in attendance.

Melbourne International Film Festival, 2002 – Opening Night Film (7:13)

     Rolf de Heer, David Gulpilil, Damon Gameau, producer Julie Ryan and Archie Roach and the band at the51st Melbourne International Film Festival opening night.

IF Awards, 2002 (8:28)

     Footage of the awards ceremony. The Tracker wins best picture, Graham Tardif, Rolf de Heer win best music and David Gulpilil wins best actor and receives a Living Legend award.

AFI Awards, 2002 (1:10)

     Footage of David Gulpilil winning best actor.

Archie Roach “Alien Invasion” Music Clip (4:53)

     A music video unrelated to the film.

     Note: the Blu-ray omits these extras that were on the previous DVD:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This Region B Australian version of The Tracker is the only Blu-ray currently available.

Summary

     The Tracker is a powerful and beautiful film that is intense and almost mythical, a film that is a study of character and attitudes with compelling acting, stunning scenery and a melancholy, moving score. A filmmaking masterclass that is as compelling today as when it was made.

     While there is only one new extra, if you are a fan of the film and already own the DVD the beautiful restored video and lossless audio makes this Blu-ray still worth a purchase. If you don’t have The Tracker this is a perfect opportunity to add this superb Australian film to your collection.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, May 31, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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