Tracks is an Australian adventure, biography, drama based on the real life adventures of Robyn Davidson. Robyn Davidson wrote a book of the same name about her journey in 1977, when she made a 1,700-mile solo trek west across Australia from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean, accompanied by four camels and her faithful dog. The film echoes the tales in The Way and Wild, two other movies depicting long distance journeys on foot.
Tracks was released in 2013, and is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some partial nudity, disturbing images and brief strong language. Mandy Walker won 2014 Best Cinematography awards for Tracks from the Australian Cinematographers Society and the Film Critics Circle of Australia.
Robyn (Mia Wasikowska) desperately wants to walk across the western Australian desert. Her plan is to use camels to carry her water and supplies. She writes to National Geographic soliciting funds for her trip. An agreement is reached, and she is provided with the funding she needs with the stipulation that a photographer, Rick Smolan (Adam Driver), accompany her on portions of the trip to cover the story for National Geographic Magazine.
I admire Robyn for what she accomplished. Someday, I would like to do some long distance walking, possibly on the Camino in Spain or across England. The longest walk I’ve done to date is 18 miles round trip backpacking with two friends in the wilderness of Olympic National Park in Washington State. The walk in this film bears little if any resemblance to my little jaunt in the rain forest. Robyn walked across the Australian desert for 1,700 miles. Why? Why does anyone set a challenge for himself or herself that then becomes an obsession until completed? The desert doesn’t exactly hold the same draws as a rainforest, especially when it’s the Australian desert, a continent whose claim to fame is that there are more poisonous creatures there than on any other portion of the earth.
The same could be asked of Cheryl Strayed (Wild). Alone, carrying all she needed and more on her back, she walked 1,100 miles north on the Pacific Crest Trail from the border of Mexico to the Columbia River. I think the reason these women did these walks was that the solitude brings clarity and insight about the life their soul inhabits that cannot be found within the din of day-to-day discourse with other humans, days filled with tasks serving to dull the mind, and not giving enough space for true awareness. Robyn and Cheryl share commonalities in their life experience, grief that was transcended by doing their walks.
I first saw Australian actress Mia Wasikowska as the daughter Joni in the film The Kids Are All Right. Adam Driver stars as Kylo Ren in the ongoing Star Wars saga. They both seem to have promising careers ahead of them.
This is a really good film, one that hasn’t gotten much play or press. I recommend you watch it and pass it on if you find Robyn’s story resonates with you.