Director Geoff Murphy
Producer Don Blakeney, David Carson-Parker, Kerry Robins, Graeme Cowley
Editor Michael Horton
Screenplay Keith Aberdein, Geoff Murphy
Sound Graham Morris, John Charles (music)
With Anzac Wallace, Bruno Lawrence, Tim Elliott, Kelly Johnson, Wi Kuki Kaa, Tania Bristowe, Ilona Rodgers, Merata Mita, Faenza Reuben, Tom Poata, Martyn Sanderson
Cinematography Graeme Cowley
Screening as part of the Films that Shaped New Zealand series.
A restored and re-edited version of Geoff Murphy’s classic film Utu. Subverting the traditional Western genre, with a fictional story based during the Land Wars and featuring characters mixed from nineteenth century Māori leaders, the film was another box office and critical success. It was the first New Zealand film to be invited to the Cannes Film Festival. After digital restoration by Park Road Post in 2013 it looks better than ever.
"The whole thing is sharper and smarter, and what that does is makes it more powerful. It's virtually a new experience." – Geoff Murphy speaking to the Evening Post, 27 June 2013.
"The glorious peak achievement of the new feature film culture that burgeoned here in the 70s, Geoff Murphy’s 1983 Utu is unveiled afresh in its ravishing, pictorial splendour. Here it is, our own turbulent history transcribed with cinematic élan – and an elegiac, absurdist vision of the devil’s mischief in paradise... Utu traces the interwoven trajectories of several vividly etched characters caught up in the wake of the vengeful Te Wheke, whose people have been massacred in a British military blunder. Thirty years ago we thought such a copious panorama of the Land Wars might be where our movies were headed. Now that we have a feature film industry, Utu looks like a miracle." –NZ International Film Festival, 2013
"Utu is undoubtedly the work of a filmmaker who cares passionately, both about the process of filmmaking and about the subject being treated. Bruno Lawrence as an extraordinary and extremely disconcerting presence as Williamson, while Anzac Wallace, a former trades union activist making his acting début, is magnificent as Te Wheke... the anger and energy of Utu, the scope of the big action scenes and the consistent excellence of Graeme Cowley’s cinematography, make the film, for all its occasional lapses and uncertainties of tone, one of great interest and not a little power." – Nick Roddick, Monthly Film Bulletin, vol.52, February 1985.