Released in the same year as that other outback classic, Walkabout, Wake in Fright charts the descent of an ordinary man into a devastating, self-destructive hell. Gary Bond plays a schoolteacher who gets stuck in a bleak outback mining town while travelling home for Christmas. Known as ‘The Yabba’, this is a place with little to offer but heat, dust, beer and menacing, aggressive machismo. When he encounters a group of boorish local characters (including ‘Doc’, a career highlight from the great Donald Pleasence), events start to spiral out of his control, becoming ever more debasing and disturbing.

The original negatives of Wake in Fright were lost for years, but after a long search they were rediscovered in the US in 2004, when they were saved from destruction, and then restored by Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive. Do not miss this incredible, shattering look at the fine line that separates civilisation from savagery, which Nick Cave described as “the best and most terrifying film about Australia in existence”.

Claire West
Conservation Specialist