Although there are 1000s of films listed with the various movie subscription services, it is still no easy chore to find something worth watching. Even if you maintain an unbelievably low standard that your choices must only be better than “barely trash,” the number of watchable shows is still very limited. So when you are just cruising around looking for anything that looks good, it is a real pleasure to find a real gem you have never heard of—for me that was a movie on Netflix named Tracks.

It is a simple movie (made in 2013) about a real woman, Robyn Davidson, deciding she wanted to take on the challenge of crossing 1700 miles of a nearly uninhabited stretch of desert in Australia. Her motivation is to follow in the footsteps of her adventurer and explorer father (and in such, better understand her estranged relationship with him).

To undertake this 1977 journey, she needs to utilize camels (apparently there are lots of feral and domesticated camels in Australia) to pack water and gear. First problem: she knows nothing about handling camels. But she lets nothing deter her.

She offers here services to a rancher who trains camels used to haul tourists around in exchange for cash. This ends up being an interesting story in itself, but I’ll stop here so that you can enjoy it on your own.

As you may guess, much of the story is about her, her dog, and her camels. Camels are one of those few animals that we immediately give the label of being obnoxious and mean. Other animals on the “Threat to Man List” include the rhino, alligator, shark, and grizzly bear.  All of these animals must be dreaded more than the camel as I have never seen a movie about a rogue camel threatening to wipe out the population of a small town.).

When I worked in the National Parks, it was always a buffalo, moose, or bear that had the reputation of being disagreeable and ornery and would maim a visitor or two each year. The official park response was “Visitors need to realize these are wild animals, are dangerous, and need to be respected.” The unofficial response was “Dumbass got what they deserved.”

The film is beautifully filmed, nicely written, and flows well from start to finish. The star is Australian actress Mia Wasikowska a real beauty (after her being out in the sun for months [actually or supposedly] it is kind of hard to tell).

The story tells how she begrudgingly (but necessarily) agrees to be sponsored by National Geographic Magazine and have her story told after she completes her journey. While on her trip, she eventually finds herself (don’t all travelers who have large time voids to fill), has a brief romance with the NG photographer, and handles a bunch of life threatening problems. Her journey comes to an end when she reaches the shore of the Indian Ocean.

There is one life philosophy of the “Camel Lady contained in the film that I especially liked. It went something like this—“The best things in life are hope, jokes, and dogs. Dogs are by far the most important.” Nothing could be truer.

Movie Review: Tracks (Netflix)
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