Friday, September 18, 2015

#1,859. Long Weekend (1978)

Directed By: Colin Eggleston

Starring: John Hargreaves, Briony Behets, Mike McEwen

Tag line: "Their crime was against nature...Nature found them guilty"

Trivia: Not all the financing for this picture had been completed and finalized when principal photography started on this movie

From the classics (Aguirre: The Wrath of God) to more recent offerings (All is Lost), the battle between Man and Nature has been explored on-screen in a variety of movies. Long Weekend, a 1977 Australian film directed by Colin Eggleston, takes things one step further by showing us what happens when nature gets pissed off.

In the hopes of repairing their turbulent marriage, Peter (John Hargreaves) and Marcia (Briony Behets) head to a secluded beach, where they’ll spend the holiday weekend camping and relaxing in the sun. Unfortunately, the two of them just can’t get along, and what’s more, they abuse the natural world, leaving their trash lying around and killing several woodland creatures. But as they soon discover, nature has a way of getting even.

Peter and Mary's ignorant behavior begins well before they arrive at the campsite (while driving, Peter tosses a cigarette out the window, kicking off a small brush fire. Then, a few miles later, he runs over a kangaroo that was resting in the middle of the road). Things continue to go downhill when the two reach their destination; after setting up the tent, Peter grabs an axe and starts cutting down a tree. When Marcia asks why he’s doing it, Peter replies “Why not?” But nature isn’t about to take this lying down. At one point, Peter is attacked by an eagle looking for its egg (which Marcia had found earlier), yet this pales in comparison to what happens when Peter shoots a sea cow, which had been swimming nearby whenever he went in the water (initially, he mistook it for a more dangerous animal, such as a shark, but as the story progresses, much to Peter and Marcia’s dismay, the sea cow proves plenty threatening enough).

Despite the fact both leads give exceptional performances, there wasn’t a single moment in Long Weekend where I was pulling for their characters. Marcia is downright belligerent through most of the film, shouting insults at her husband and complaining about having to spend the weekend in a tent, while Peter, who claims to be an outdoorsman, clearly has no respect for nature (strolling along the beach, he tosses his empty beer bottles into the water, then shoots at them with his rifle). The closing scenes are especially disturbing (a sequence in which Marcia drives off on her own is harrowing, to say the least), but even at this late stage of the movie, we’re rooting for nature to win out in the end.

And it’s fairly obvious throughout Long Weekend that the filmmakers felt the exact same way.

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