Tracks, the Movie – Never say Never

Yesterday I read a small item in Time Magazine that made me leave my breakfast and scurry to my computer. In a long list of fall movies, Time said that Tracks was coming out in a couple of weeks. Finally, a movie?

Tracks recounts the tale of Robyn Davidson, a 20-something Australian woman, who treks 1,700 miles across the outback. She did the walk with several camels in the 1970s and her book was published in 1980.

In 1992, I lived in New Zealand for six months on an academic sabbatical. After my teaching stint, Lenny and I met in Australia where we toured and hiked, or bushwalked as they call it. We visited Alice Springs in the center of the country and climbed Ayers Rock, Uluru. Nowadays climbing the Rock is really frowned upon since it’s considered a sacred place for Aborigines.

I discovered Davidson’s book on this trip. She was sponsored by National Geographic on the condition that a photographer meet her at various points on her trek to photograph her. Of course, she accepted these terms.

Eventually she has an affair with the photographer. Davidson portrays herself as unprepared and disorganized which makes a better book, I guess, than the fit, organized Jennifer on the A.T. in Called Again.

Completely coincidentally, the National Geographic photo exhibition entitled From Alice to Ocean, was on display in Sydney when we were there. Almost immediately after, there was talk about a movie. Julia Roberts was going to play Davidson. Well, Roberts was in everything at the time, so why not this movie? But it never happened.

Davidson seems to have led a writer’s life in several countries. Now she’s in her early 60s and I wonder if this movie will fundamentally change her life. Mia Wasikowska, a fellow Aussie, is playing Davidson in her 20s.

So there’s hope for any book. I don’t think that anyone will make a movie of The Mountains-to-Sea Trail Across North Carolina. Besides I did this trek only a couple of years ago, so who would play me? When I was much younger, I indulged in a fantasy that Sally Field could play me. We’re the same age and height. But I don’t think she’s that active anymore. But what about Diane Van Deren, the ultra runner, who ran the MST in just over 22 days?

I hope that Tracks will come to Asheville soon. Are you listening, Fine Arts Theater? And I’ll be there on opening night.

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