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Umbrella Entertainment announces restoration of new wave landmark WAKE IN FRIGHT

17 May 2024

Still from the newly restored WAKE IN FRIGHT 4K

The 1971 Australia thriller directed by Ted Kotcheff, chronicles one man’s hellish experience in a fictional town in the Australian outback. Based on Kenneth Cook’s 1961 novel of the same name. A horror like no other before or since, this twisted ode to the outback spins and spirals into a cacophony of blood, dust, and uncontrollable howls of manic laughter.

Scanned from the original camera negative, and then colour-corrected and stabilised one shot at a time, this new restoration has undergone months of work to clean all imperfections and distortion. 

Umbrella’s brand-new restoration of WAKE IN FRIGHT marks the most recent entry into the muddied and strange history of the film which saw it almost lost forever.

After the film was released to a menial box-office return the camera negatives vanished from the face of the earth for over three decades. In 1998, Umbrella friend and editor of the film, Anthony Buckley AO, tracked them down to a storage facility first in London (close but no luck) and eventually in Pittsburgh, USA four years later. On the box it was found, a label stating ‘for destruction’. 

The six-year search finally saw the film touch down on home turf in 2003, but it was the incorrect elements – ramshackled TV cutdowns. The search carried on from one contact to another before Mr. Buckley arrived at a film vault where the manager stated that the only chance would be to check the bins. Have a guess what was in the bin? 

Finally, in 2004, all 263 cans of the film were sent to the National Film and Sound Archive in Australia to be preserved. According to director Ted Kotcheff, “the search for it was almost like a film – “The Hunt for O-Negative.” He added, “the loss of the negative would have been a knife in my heart as Wake in Fright is one of my proudest achievements.”

Fast forward another two decades. Umbrella Entertainment cracked open the vault one more time to dust off the prints and ensure this masterpiece of Australian cinema is preserved for all future generations to discover and be proud of a pivotal moment in our country’s cinematic history.

Ari Harrison, General Manager of Umbrella Entertainment has said “Wake In Fright is  arguably one of the best Australia films of all time, and is still inspiring viewers and creatives alike 50+ years on from its creation. I will never forget the first time I watched Ted Kotcheffs new wave masterpiece. I was horrified, and absolutely captivated. This is my favourite kind of film, and in 4K it’s even better.  Umbrella are so proud to play an active role in the preservation of such an iconic and valuable Australian films.”

The restoration was supervised by filmmaker Mark Hartley.Umbrella wish to give special thanks to colourist Charlie Ellis and the Wake In Fright Trust.

Umbrella Entertainment represents WAKE IN FRIGHT for the world and handles all rights.