Media type
Moving image
Ask about this item

Ask to use material, get more information or tell us about an item

Media type
Moving image
Place of production
New Zealand/Aotearoa
Production company
Aardvark Films
Director: Roger Donaldson
Producer: Roger Donaldson
Director of Photography: Michael Seresin
Camera: Paul Leach
Writer: Arthur Baysting
Screenplay: Ian Mune
Sound: Craig McLeod
Music: Murray Grindlay
Music: David Calder
Music: Matthew Brown
Cast: Sam Neill
Cast: Warren Oates
Cast: Nevan Rowe
Cast: Donna Akerston
Cast: Bernard Kearns
Cast: Raf Irving
Cast: Cass Donaldson
Cast: Ian Watkin
Cast: Don Charles Selwyn
Cast: Melissa Donaldson
Cast: Tommy Tinirau
Cast: Bill Johnson
Cast: Roger Oakley
Cast: Clyde Scott
Cast: Laurie Dee
Cast: Davina Whitehouse
Adapted From The Novel By: C K Stead
Assistant Director: Tom Binns
Assistant Director: Dag Lind
Associate Editor: Stewart Main
Assistant Editor: Annie Collins
Gaffer: Alun Bollinger
Special Effects Director: Geoff Murphy

"Smith is a man on the run, running from a broken marriage. Accidentally caught between two powers - a repressive Government and a violent resistance movement - he becomes a man alone...hunted and hostile, driven by the will to survive.

"A state of political unrest prevails in New Zealand - with strikes, riots and rationing. The Prime Minister has set up an anti-terrorist force of "Specials" - supposedly to restore law and order.

"Smith (Sam Neill) is too busy with his domestic problems to worry about the state of the nation. When his wife has an affair with Bullen (Ian Mune), he leaves the city for remote seaside town. He wants to retreat from his problems and from society, and when he sees a tiny, uninhabited island off the coast, he rents it from its Maori owners, and begins an idyllic life, fishing and gardening.

"Political strife worsens on the mainland. A state of emergency and martial law are created, under false pretences. The Prime Minister becomes a virtual dictator. Smith becomes unwittingly involved in the unrest when the "Specials" find an arms cache hidden on his island. He is arrested, then taken back to the mainland, and thrown into prison.

"The head of the secret police visits him in the prison cell, and offers to pardon him from a death sentence if he'll confess to revolutionary activities. En route to the television studios for his "confession", Smith escapes, and goes into hiding at a seedy country motel.

"Then Bullen arrives. He's now a revolutionary, and he asks Smith to join the rebels. Smith resists - till an American army detachment led by Willoughby (Warren Oates) arrives to search out guerillas. Smith agrees to sound an alarm which leads to the massacre of the soldiers. Smith, by now a reluctant but panic-stricken revolutionary, is visited by his wife, who has joined the resistance. They spend the night together, and Smith then leaves with Bullen - but they are caught by the "Specials", and escape only after a shooting exchange.

"By now they are really on the run. The head of the secret service takes personal charge of the hunt for them. Their camp is attacked by Skyhawks, and Bullen is seriously wounded. Smith helps him to trek across the mountains to the coast - and during this epic voyage Smith at last becomes the leader, providing the strength and determination which they need to keep going to the destination.

"They make it - against all odds, but the secret service searchers have discovered them. The conclusion is inevitable, but Smith and Bullen win an emotional victory over Jesperson." - New Zealand Film Commission;; 30/01/2014.