Wake in Fright (1971)

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Wake in Fright (initially released as Outback outside Australia) is a 1971 psychological thriller film directed by Ted Kotcheff, written by Evan Jones, and starring Gary Bond, Donald Pleasence, Chips Rafferty, Sylvia Kay and Jack Thompson. Based on Kenneth Cook's 1961 novel of the same name, it follows a young schoolteacher who descends into personal moral degradation after finding himself stranded in a brutal, menacing town in outback Australia.

Filmed on location in Broken Hill and Sydney, Wake in Fright was an international co-production between Australia and the United States. Alongside Walkabout, it was one of two Australian films to be nominated for the Grand Prix du Festival at the 24th Cannes Film Festival. Despite attracting positive reviews at the time, the film was a commercial failure in Australia, in part due to scant marketing by United Artists, as well as controversy surrounding its portrayal of outback life, including a hunting scene in which real kangaroos are shot and killed.

By the 1990s, Wake in Fright had developed a cult reputation as Australia's great "lost film" because its master negative had gone missing, resulting in censored prints of degraded quality being used for its few television broadcasts and VHS releases. After the original film and sound elements were rescued by editor Anthony Buckley in 2004, the film was digitally remastered and given a 2009 re-release at Cannes and in Australian theatres to widespread acclaim; it was issued commercially on DVD and Blu-ray later that year. Wake in Fright is now considered a pivotal film of the Australian New Wave, earning praise from contemporary critics for Kotcheff's direction and the cast's performances.

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