Utu

Utu

Utu

The New Zealand Land Wars of the nineteenth century provide the setting for this Geoff Murphy epic - starring Anzac Wallace and Bruno Lawrence - that closest approaches the style of a classic western in NZ's cinematic back catalogue. It starts with the slaughter of a Maori village where almost every character seems to enter into their own personal vendetta against their enemies, turning the film into a prolonged ballad of revenge. These savage motivations mean the moral compass is effectively shattered, nobody is completely good or evil, and the stage is set for some incredibly visceral set pieces, a grim view of race relations and a jet black sense of humour. Bruno Lawrence’s gun needs to be seen to be believed.

1983Rating: M, Violence118 minsNew Zealand
AdventureDramaWarClassic

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Utu / Reviews

Flicks, Dominic Corry

Flicks, Dominic Corry

Utu is one of those New Zealand films that most people are aware of, but relatively few have seen. As one of the few movies that depicts the Maori land wars, many who have encountered it did so in the context of a high school history class. It's also famous as a film that subverts easily-made presumptions about its protagonists and their trajectories.

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Variety

Variety

A fast-moving visual tale of archetypal passion and action... Murphy has produced powerful images and strong performances, particularly from Wallace... Action sequences, special effects, and visual exploitation of a rugged, high country location in central New Zealand are superb.

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Time Out

Time Out

A film both fascinating and disconcerting, all but bringing off the gamble of combining a serious look at history with a thrills'n'spills action movie.

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The New Yorker

The New Yorker

A feeling of exaltation and spirituality hovers over this film.

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The New York Times

The New York Times

Mingling history, anthropology, adventure and parable, Utu, like Smash Palace, is another testament to the vigor of film making in New Zealand.

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