Linda Stirling Unmasked: The Black Whip

: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.



Tracks: Are Female Nomads In Movies A Different Discussion?

Tracks is the second dramatic feature to be released recently about a long distance, emotionally fueled journey by a woman on foot. With Mia Wasikowska's Aussie Outback nomad in Tracks following in elder melancholy matriarch Shirley Knight's footsteps, so to speak, in Redwood Highway. But, is it?

The biopic is based on the real life mid-1970s, nearly year long self-proclaimed solo expedition of misanthropic loner Robyn Davidson's determined coast to coast punishing personal quest across 2,000 miles of mostly desert terrain, and with four camels and her dog for companionship. But Tracks displays unintentionally or not, its own conflict in narrative terms. That is, as crafted by first time screenwriter Marion Nelson, between negotiating inner psychological turmoil and the both deathly and dreary physical ordeal of survival in the wilderness.

And while the search for balance tends to favor the immense grandeur, dominance and danger of raw nature, the inner life of Mia's emotionally damaged twentysomething female in flight, diminishes in comparison. In other words, displaying Davidson's hermetic soul, rather than grasping, articulating and plummeting its depths.

Directed by US filmmaker John Curran and based on Australian writer Davidson's memoir, Tracks is in a sense a Eurocentric travelogue more than anything else. And with the impoverished and thwarted lives of the aborigines encountered along the way, simply part of the exotic scenery as well.

Though Wasikowska's intensely grueling performance impressively distills an abundance of unspoken muted fury from the relatively meager when not overly melodramatic material that she is burdened with, physically and psychologically. And not unlike say, Kevin Costner's similar weighty existential pilgrimage, here conveyed in her own sort of Dances With Camels across the Australian wilderness.

Prairie Miller

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