Saturday, 25 November 2017

Tracks (5 Stars)

I've mentioned a few times that I bought my first DVD player in 2003, and this was what turned me into a film fan. I don't remember the exact month, but I know it was a warm day, so I'm guessing it was June. What I haven't told my readers is that the last time I went on holiday was in April 2003. Since then I've been on occasional day trips and I've visited relatives, but that doesn't count. Is it a coincidence that these two dates lie so close together? April 2003 and June 2003? I think not.

Over the years, from my early childhood to April 2003, I often went on holidays. As a child my parents went on holiday every summer, either to Wales or to an English coastal town. As far as I remember they never skipped a year. My parents worked hard, and an annual holiday was something they looked forward to all year. When I was 20 we went to Scotland. This was the only time we ever went to Scotland, and it was also the last holiday we took together as a family. Later in the year my parents split up.

I lived with my father for the next two years. He didn't want to go on holiday any more. For the rest of his life he spent his annual vacation at home. He called it "holiday in the garden". I never asked him why he didn't want to go away any more. Maybe it would have reminded him of his married life. I don't know.

When I was 22 I left home to work in Germany. From then on I got into the habit of going on holiday every year, just like my parents had done. For the next four years I went to Scotland. I alternated between the west coast (the Highlands) and the east coast (the whisky triangle). After getting married at 26 I still went on holiday almost every year, usually to Scotland, but sometimes we visited France or Switzerland. After leaving my wife at 41 I stopped going on holiday. In 2002, when I was living in England again, I went to Brighton for a week. It was glorious weather, I loved it. In 2003 I went back to Brighton, and it rained every day. Awful!

That was April. Two months later I bought a DVD player. That changed my life. Until then I'd occasionally borrowed films from a video rental store, maybe once a week, and I watched random films on television. But I was amazed at the leap in quality from videotapes to DVD. The new technology fascinated me so much that I was buying about two films a week. In addition I bought the box sets of my favourite television series, "Highlander", "The Avengers" and "La Femme Nikita" (in that order), so I was using my DVD player every day.

No more holidays.

Why not?

My readers might guess that I was spending so much money on DVDs (and later Blu-rays) that I didn't have enough money left for holidays. No, that's not it. The reason is that I immersed myself into my films so deeply that I didn't need a holiday any more. When I watch my films I see foreign countries and I feel like I'm in the country with the actors.

That's why I'm writing this today. I just watched "Tracks". Look at the dazzlingly beautiful Australian scenery. Look at the strange people in the strange towns. I feel like I'm walking in the dusty streets and the sandy deserts. Why should I spend thousands of dollars on a plane journey to Australia when I can see everything for ten dollars -- the price of a Blu-ray -- without leaving my sofa?

Maybe I'm lazy. Robyn Davidson spent 195 days walking across the desert with the sun beating down on her head, while I'm sitting in front of the TV screen with a glass of Coke in my hand. She was crazy, I'm not. She could have died, I'm safe. I travel the world faster. This month I've been to Canada, Spain, China, America, Iran, France, Russia, Peru and Australia. Where shall I go next month? I lead an exciting life.

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