Episode 28: Patu! (1983)\Bastion Point: Day 507 (1980)

The 1981 Springbok rugby tour is one of the defining moments of recent New Zealand history, and Merata Mita’s Patu!, a document of the anti-tour protests, is a crucial snapshot of that moment. Hayden and L.J. look back at one of the great New Zealand documentaries and discuss technique, impact, and controversy. And to make it a Merata Mita double-feature they also watch Bastion Point: Day 507, an early short she co-directed with Gerd Pohlmann and Leon Narbey about the forced eviction of occupying protesters at Bastion Point in Auckland.

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Director and producer: Merata Mita
Co-ordinators: Gaylene Preston, Gerd Pohlmann, Martyn Sanderson
Photography: Barry Harbet
Additional photography: W. Attewell, C. Barrett, A. Barry, J. Bartle, A. Bollinger, P. Carvell, R. Donaldson, M. Fingel, E. Frizzell, C. Ghent, A. Guilford, R. Long, L. Narbey, R. Prosser, M. Single
Editor: Annie Collins
Music: Diatribe, Tia Kingi
Additional music: Syd Melbourne, Haruru Mai

Notes:

  • The easiest way to see Patu! is to stream it at NZ On Screen. A DVD is available from Filmshop, though we are unable to vouch for its quality. As for Bastion Point: Day 507, check out this list of Medianet access points around New Zealand.
  • NZ On Screen also has a short excerpt from an episode of Maori Television’s doco series Kete Aronui about Merata Mita, focusing on her experience making Bastion Point.
  • The history behind the 1981 tour proved too wide-ranging and complex to summarise in this episode. There’s plenty of information out there online (including a good concise summary at the NZHistory website) – for a deeper dive Hayden recommends Geoff Chapple’s book ‘1981: The Tour’ if you can track it down.
  • Bastion Point was restored by Ngā Taonga in 2016. This article about the restoration and subsequent screening at Ōrākei marae has a couple of short clips of the restored version.
  • If you want to know more about Merata Mita (and you do), the best starting point is probably her NZ On Screen biography.
  • Merata Mita’s influence in the medium of film extended far beyond New Zealand. From 2000-2009 she was an advisor and artistic director of the Sundance Institute NativeLab, and in 2016 the Institute announced the Merata Mita Fellowship. Ngā Taonga’s blog has an entry by Heperi Mita about his trip to represent his mother at the announcement ceremony.
  • The Wellywood Woman blog has a beautiful eulogy for Merata Mita that explores what an important figure she is in New Zealand cinema. Essential reading.

Episode 27: War Years (1983)

As an excuse to talk a bit more about the National Film Unit, Hayden and L.J. take a look at War Years – a 1983 documentary composed almost exclusively of NFU newsreel footage.

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Director: Pat McGuire
Producer: Hugh Macdonald
Producer (original footage): Stanhope Andrews
Editor: Chris Lancaster
Film Archivist: Clive Sowry

Notes:

  • War Years is a fairly easy film to see these days thanks to NZ On Screen. It’s also available to rent on VHS from Aro Video, though we can’t confirm that it was ever commercially available.
  • If you’re interested in the original Weekly Review newsreels, a selection are available to watch at NZ On Screen. Two specific ones mentioned in the podcast are Wheat Problem 1948, and the very first NFU film Country Lads.
  • 2016 marked the 75th anniversary of the National Film Unit, and Radio New Zealand put together a superb piece to commemorate the occasion. If you want to know more background details about the Unit and those who worked there it should be your first stop.

Episode 26: Utu (1983) – Part 2

We wrap up our discussion of Geoff Murphy’s Utu this week by taking a look at the historical incidents that inspired the film, as well as exploring the production process, and breaking down the differences between the three different cuts.

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Director and producer: Geoff Murphy
Executive producers: Don Blakeney, Kerry Robins
Screenplay: Geoff Murphy, Keith Aberdein
Director of photography: Graeme Cowley
Editor: Michael Horton
Music: John Charles

Cast:
Te Wheke
…Anzac Wallace
Williamson…Bruno Lawrence
Wiremu…Wi Kuki Kaa
Lieutenant Scott…Kelly Johnson
Colonel Elliot…Tim Elliot
Matu…Merata Mita
Kura…Tania Bristowe
Vicar…Martyn Sanderson
Emily…Ilona Rodgers

Notes:

  • Of the three cuts of the film, Utu Redux is the easiest to see. A special edition DVD/Blu-Ray release is available from Aro Video, and we highly recommend plumping for the Blu-Ray if you’re capable of playing it. It can also be rented in HD from NZ Film On Demand.
  • The original 1983 cut is a bit trickier to track down these days. It was released on DVD in the US by Kino with an awful muddy transfer. This release went out-of-print fairly quickly and has been known to command absurd prices on the second-hand market. The same transfer was used for a DVD released in Aus/NZ by Magna Pacific, which is the one we recommend tracking down. It’s also out-of-print, but shouldn’t be too hard to find. Keep an eye on auction sites like TradeMe.
  • The shortened international recut is trickier still. It’s never been released on DVD, so your best hope is to find a copy of the CBS/Fox Video US VHS release from 1986. Copies still turn up on eBay in varying condition. Take care that you’re buying the right version though – Kino put out the original cut on VHS in 2000 alongside their DVD release. The info on VHSCollector.com should be enough to make sure you’re getting the correct tape. And if you live in Wellington, you can bypass the hassle of tracking down old VHS tapes and watch the recut version of the film at Ngā Taonga‘s medialibrary.
  • As usual, more info about some of the various home video copies of Utu floating around can be found at the indispensable NZ Videos website.
  • For more information on Kereopa Te Rau, the Te Ara entry about him is a good place to start. As for the murder of Carl Völkner, his Te Ara entry is a good starting point as well. The Early New Zealand Books project by The University of Auckland has digitised a pamphlet produced by the Church Missionary House of London about Völkner’s murder, complete with an account of the trial. It’s obviously not an unbiased historical account, but fascinating all the same.
  • Roy Murphy’s website reproduces a couple of detailed articles he wrote for OnFilm magazine in 1984 that we didn’t get time to discuss in this episode. One covers Utu‘s US marketing and premiere and also talks about the recut. The other is a 1985 interview with his brother Geoff Murphy, which covers both the recut and Utu‘s reception in NZ. There are also articles about the production of Wild Man and Sleeping Dogs written for The Listener magazine.
  • We recorded a short discussion of Utu‘s soundtrack but couldn’t find anywhere to fit it into this episode. We’re both big fans of John Charles’ score, which is unlike any other we can think of in NZ cinema. The theme ranks up there with some of Ennio Morricone’s best work. The soundtrack release is still in print too – the limited 3-disc DVD of Utu Redux from Aro Video comes with a copy of the CD. For you whipper-snappers that prefer digital downloads, it can also be bought from iTunes.
  • Geoff Murphy wrote an interesting essay about the tax loophole years of the early ’80s and their impact on the industry for ‘Film in Aotearoa New Zealand’ edited by Jonathan Dennis and Jan Bieringa.

Episode 25: Utu (1983) – Part 1

In our longest episode yet, we lovingly pull apart Geoff Murphy’s 1983 kiwi western Utu – discussing the film’s odd tonal shifts, arguing over performances, picking apart its politics, and pondering how so many messy parts could create a cohesive whole.

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Director and producer: Geoff Murphy
Executive producers: Don Blakeney, Kerry Robins
Screenplay: Geoff Murphy, Keith Aberdein
Director of photography: Graeme Cowley
Editor: Michael Horton
Music: John Charles

Cast:
Te Wheke
…Anzac Wallace
Williamson…Bruno Lawrence
Wiremu…Wi Kuki Kaa
Lieutenant Scott…Kelly Johnson
Colonel Elliot…Tim Elliot
Matu…Merata Mita
Kura…Tania Bristowe
Vicar…Martyn Sanderson
Emily…Ilona Rodgers

Notes:

  • We’ll provide full information about how to see all the different versions of the film in the notes for Part 2. For now, the ideal way to see the film is to buy a copy of the recent DVD/Blu-Ray release from Aro Video. It’s also available to digitally rent in HD from NZ Film On Demand.
  • For more information on Anzac Wallace we highly recommend watching an interview he gave in 2016 to Marae Investigates. The video is available on their Facebook page.
  • If you’re interested in checking out ‘The Protesters’, the TV drama Hayden mentions, it can be viewed in full at NZ On Screen.
  • The terrific soundtrack by John Charles is still in print. The limited 3-disc DVD of Utu Redux from Aro Video comes with a copy of the CD. For you whipper-snappers that prefer digital downloads, it can also be bought from iTunes.

Quick Thoughts: Pork Pie

Since we laid out our hopes and expectations for the Goodbye Pork Pie remake back in our episode about that film, we thought we’d quickly check in to share our thoughts on how Pork Pie turned out. Is it a satisfying update for our modern age? Spoiler alert: no.

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pork-pie

Episode 24: The Governor (Part 3)

Our look at the 1977 mini-series The Governor comes to an end as Hayden and L.J. discuss the production of the show, the budget controversy and ensuing enquiry, and what the TV landscape looked like at the time, as well as the show’s lasting importance and the logistical problems preventing it from being commercially screened or released.

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The Governor

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