I’ve finally managed to watch this movie after reading the book, Inside Tracks: A Multimedia Book by Rick Smolan. I had seen many clips from the movie by connecting from the book to clips using the phone app, Aurasma, but it was much better to see the movie, start to finish.
From the same producers who made The King’s Speech, Tracks sticks fairly closely to the true story of Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska) and her nine month journey across almost 2,000 miles of Australian desert. In this movie, Robyn is presented as a young woman drifting from place to place and job to job, having no purpose to her life. She says, when people ask her why she wants to cross the desert, she generally replies, “Why not?” She works at odd jobs, often in exchange for room and board, and sometimes, for employers who renege on their agreements. Diggity is her faithful companion (in this case, woman’s best friend), and she learns how to train camels as she plans to take three with her across the desert. (She ends up with four when one has a calf.) Money is her main problem, which is solved when National Geographic agrees to support her journey in exchange for a photo spread to be shot by Rick Smolan (Adam Driver).
The film progresses rather slowly, which creates the impression of the slow, hot, long, desert journey. The solitude of her situation, her independent spirit, and her close relationship with both Diggity and her camels, is well conveyed by Wasikowska, and the desert filming is quite amazing. Her contact with aboriginals adds interest and is well-portrayed. There are some tense moments when Robyn has to rely on her training to defend herself and her animals against rogue bulls that freely roam the desert. At other times, she’s disoriented and delirious or feels threatened by reporters and tourists that try to track her and photograph her. Smolan comes across as a rather self-absorbed person who sometimes puts Robyn at risk but grows to care for her, and becomes quite protective of her by the end.
This is not a fast-paced adventure, but it is an adventure, featuring bravery and accomplishment. It is not exactly what I’d call a blockbuster movie, but the scenery and the camel scenes make it worth watching, and it is a great, true story about the human spirit. * * *