There are too many chunks of cinema history that have gone permanently lost that anytime something is called back from the ashes, it's cause for celebration. Even so, Ted Kotcheff's acidic, sweaty Australian drama Wake in Fright is a special case. Released in 1971 to critical praise and box office indifference, the tale of a young teacher (Gary Bond) who finds himself trapped in a decaying, outback mining town and succumbing to its rough influence was a wholehearted embrace of the daring breaks with studio filmmaking that were taking place in the early 70's and an anticipation of the rise of Australian cinema that would bring such auteurs as Peter Weir, Bruce Beresford, and George Miller to world attention.
For decades, the WAKE had been consigned to that roster of films thought forever lost, until its cinematographer managed to track down the original negative in storage -- and slated for destruction -- in Philadelphia. It's getting its well-deserved re-release this month in New York and L.A, followed by a national rollout, and I was thrilled to get a chance to talk with Kotcheff to get his take on what went into the creation of this gripping exploration into the darker corners of human nature.
Click on the player button to hear my interview with Kotcheff, or right-click to download.