Thursday, February 4, 2016

701. Utu

Directed by Geoff Murphy

I know virtually nothing about New Zealand cinema, unless you include the Lord of the Rings movies, which I really don't think count.  This was quite a pleasant introduction, although the film itself was a bitch to find.

Te Wheke is serving as a Maori Captain in the British army when his unit comes across his own slaughtered village.  He gathers a guerrilla force and vows to terrorize the British forces.  A lot of people seem to translate Utu as revenge, but according to IMDb, it actually translates as "a balanced exchange or reciprocity."

I also know zero about New Zealand's history, although this movie certainly piqued my interest.  It was pretty brutal, particularly when Te Wheke attacks the church.  It was strange at times; I wasn't quite sure what the filmmakers were getting at.  It seemed like they were glorifying Te Wheke at times, or as if Utu was a noble force guiding him that he couldn't control.  But they depict him doing the most brutal things, and I find it hard to believe the filmmakers would think the audience would approve.  Maybe if he had gone after the British soldiers who were directly involved in the destruction of his village, I would have had more sympathy.

Still, it was an exciting film and I certainly did not guess the ending.  Worth watching if you ever come across it, but I highly doubt that will happen.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Anzac Wallace had never acted before this film.

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