River Queen story 13 Apr 2007
- Australia Jumping on the Boy Bandwagon Living
- Waitakere Mayor championsing NZ film in China Living
- Wellington Band At Top British Film Awards Living
- New Zealand Short Film Wins At Sundance Living
- Avatar delivers $307m to New Zealand economy News
- NZ Film 'Boy' Premieres at Sundance Film Festival News
- New Zealand film qualifies for Oscar consideration Living
- From Hawke's Bay to Berlin - This Way of Life II Living
- Wanted: Maori-speaking actor for German mini series Living
- Master at work Living
If New Zealand has an Apocalypse Now - a movie like Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam War epic filmed in a hostile, remote location, which ends up in catastrophic disaster - it would have to be Vincent Ward's River Queen.
Much was promised by the Greytown-born director's fifth film - his first to be shot back home since his 1988 sophomore effort The Navigator - but Ward was forced to peer into his own heart of darkness after everything that could go wrong went wrong.
Despite receiving an official blessing from local iwi, a splinter group placed an advertisement in a Taranaki newspaper, cursing the production.
It seemed to have done the trick: Cliff Curtis, who plays Wiremu, crashed his car into a house and there were complaints from extras that they were paid or fed.
But most of the trouble centred around Nottingham-born lead actress Samantha Morton (Morvern Callar, Minority Report), who plays Sarah O'Brien, a young Irish immigrant to 1860s New Zealand who becomes embroiled in a turbulent tug of love over her half-Maori son, the simply-named Boy (Rawene Pene) with his father's tribe.
Ward - who as his 1984 debut Vigil indicates, is no stranger to hostile, wind and rain-swept environments - made the mistake of filming River Queen on the Whanganui River in Taranaki at the height of a particularly stormy winter.
Unfortunately, Morton is said to have not taken kindly to the harsh conditions - she apparently refused to use the on-site Portaloos, necessitating a five kilometre round-trip to her trailer every time she was caught short - and eventually fell sick, forcing the production to be postponed for six weeks.
The equally difficult and uncompromising actor and director also reportedly frequently clashed on set and when filming eventually resumed, Ward was sacked by the film's insurers and replaced by cinematographer Alun Bollinger - allegedly at Morton's behest - only to be reinstated during post-production.
River Queen was eventually released in New Zealand in early 2006 and while the finished version is obviously not the spectacular opus that Ward originally envisioned, it is not half as bad as some of the proverbially - mixed - i.e. bad - reviews suggest.
In truth, not every review was negative: Writing in the Dominion Post and on www.lumiere.net.nz, Alexander Bisley calls River Queen - more ambitious and vital than Utu - deeply thought (out) and charged, it teaches and warns, as well as entertains.
But while it may not be in the same class of Geoff Murphy's iconic 1983 film, River Queen is nevertheless engaging if you can overcome its overly sombre tone, which is not helped by Bollinger's overly gloomy cinematography.
And apart from Morton - who is too aloof to endear herself to viewers - there are some excellent performances, particularly Temuera Morrison as moody chief Te Kai Po and the late Wi Kuki Kaa - in his last role - as Boy's grandfather.
Despite its apparent bad karma, River Queen topped the New Zealand Box Office in its first week or release. It went on to enjoy a respectable run in cinemas and healthy DVD sales and it definitely deserves its albeit belated international release.
And while may go down in New Zealand cinematic history for al the wrong reasons, it is still an important part of the Kiwi film canon, which all New Zealanders at least should see.
From NZ Inspired Magazine April 2007
22 Feb 2018 News
21 FEBRUARY 2018 Justice Minister Andrew Little today announced that he has ordered a review of the procedures and organisational... more
22 Feb 2018 News
NZ increases humanitarian funding for Syrian war victims Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced that New Zealand... more
22 Feb 2018 Business News
21 FEBRUARY 2018 Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker has today welcomed the release of the text of the Comprehensive... more
22 Feb 2018 Business News
World digital government leaders meeting in Wellington for the Digital Ministerial Summit have set up a digital rights working group,... more
24 Nov 2017 London
Exploring the world is a big draw for Kiwis to take an OE, but everyone moves their lives 18,000km from home not even thinking... more
24 Nov 2017 Food & Wine
New Zealand Winegrowers will hold their Annual Trade Tasting in January at a new venue, and with it a new look and features for... more
12 Feb 2018 Property
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2018 The Government's housing stocktake report released today adds no new knowledge or... more
12 Feb 2018 Property
12 FEBRUARY 2018 An independent stocktake of New Zealand’s housing sector has found the housing crisis the country faces is deeper... more
26 Jan 2018 Migration
26 JANUARY 2018 Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has today announced the four community-based organisations who will be the... more
22 Feb 2018 Travel & Tourism
International visitor spending reached a record high of $10.6 billion in the year to December 2017, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis... more
28 Aug 2017 Travel & Tourism
Tourism fund for infrastructure and conservation Posted by Kris Faafoi on August 28, 2017 Labour will estaba Tourism and... more
22 Feb 2018 Sport
New Zealand has tripled its Olympic Winter Games medal count in a single stunning afternoon at PyeongChang 2018. Zoi... more
17 Feb 2018 Sport
17 Feb 2018 Adam Barwood finished 34th and Willis Feasey 36th in the men’s Giant Slalom in PyeongChang... more
11 Nov 2016 Opinion
Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade First published on Werewolf The ghastly likes of Marine Le Pen in France and Geert ... more
29 May 2017 Appointments
29 May 2017 Former Secretary for Justice Belinda Clark has been appointed as Law Commissioner, Justice Minister Amy Adams announced... more
21 Dec 2017 Recruitment
New Zealand’s increasing need for social services has seen jobs in the Community Services & Development industry among the... more