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New Zealand 1988
Directed by
Vincent Ward
87 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

The Navigator - A Medieval Odyssey

With his first feature film Vigil (1994) Vincent Ward showed himself to be a passionate and ambitious film-maker heavily indebted to the likes of Bergman and Tarkovsky. With\his follow-up The Navigator - A Medieval Odyssey he appears to be re-visiting that film and attempting to get right what he did not there. The result is a decided improvement although the self-conscious aspiration to artistic significance remains.

For a start Ward manages to find a structure to carry his fascination with the medieval in a modern context. Devised as a fantasy in which a band of 14th century Cumbrians on a mission to safeguard their village from The Black Death tunnel through the earth to end up in a 20th century city, Ward is free to explore his concern with dreams, metaphysics and so on without tripping over questions of realism, as did the earlier film.

Whilst one would be best advised to take this story for what it is and give oneself up to the often visually impressive telling of it, Ward's dramatically flat treatment does wear one's patience and as with his previous film there is a (presumably unintentional) tendency to over-earnestness which ends up being near comical. Here is it is Paul Livingstone (who rightly abandoned his acting career and went on to be a comedian on Australian television under the name of Flacco) who is principally responsible for the film's more embarrassing moments.

DVD Extras: An image gallery and trailers for 3 Vincent Ward films.

Available from: Madman




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