The Quest (1986) – Brian Trenchard-Smith, and Russell Hagg


I remember the first time I saw this film, and how the idea of it resonated inside me. There was just so many things I could relate to in it. I was living in a foreign country, like Cody (Henry Thomas), I was fascinated by the possibility of lake and sea monsters (still kinda am), and also knew there would be rational explanations for the mysteries of the world, but still edged everything with a sense of wonder and exploration.

And being told growing up that I reminded folks of Henry Thomas, there was nothing in this film that didn’t connect with me on some level, and now, looking back on it, some too many decades later, it still resonates with me.

Cody is living in Australia, and on an excursion to the national park, Devil’s Knob, finds a pond/lake that isn’t on any of the maps, and there seems to be something living it. Something unidentified.

While Cody, who is a part-time inventor, wrestles with the loss of his parents and growing up with his uncle, Gaza (Tony Barry) and his first real crush, on Wendy (Rachel Friend), Gaza and the locals deal with everyday life, and the problems with raising children.

Seeking aid from the local indigenous peoples, Cody learns the story of a rock eating monster known as donkegin that lives in the pond; it’s pretty easy to piece together what is really going on as an adult, but the film focuses on the wonder, magic, and the mystery of possibility that so fires the imagination of the young.

Cody is determined to find out what is in the pond, and even when he, his friends and the audience catch glimpses of the monster, it’s not enough, because you want to know and see more. You want to find out what it is. And Cody is brave enough to find out.

But even with the answer given at the climax of the film, there’s a hint of just a little more as the film closes out, reminding us that there is more to the world than we can see, and there’s always the mystery and possibility of something more…

I hadn’t watched this one in decades, but it was such a joy to see it again, and it still serves as a wonderful little family film, though some of the dialogue isn’t exactly correct. But man, I remember how this one, upon my first viewing, fired up my imagination about gigantic water creatures that we hadn’t encountered yet, and when I would go SCUBA diving, I would keep my eye on the dark, deep waters below me in case some THING swam up under me.

I love the sense of wonder and mystery that this film engenders in me.

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