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CNZS Bulletin of New Zealand Studies

1. Views from the Edge of the World: New Zealand Film

2. Cultural Questions: New Zealand Identity in a Transnational Age

3. Projecting a Nation: New Zealand Film and its Reception in Germany

4. Cinema Journeys of the Man Alone: The New Zealand and American Films of Geoff Murphy

5. A Cultural Assault: The New Zealand Films of Peter Jackson

6. New Zealand - A Pastoral Paradise?

7. New Zealand Fictions: Literature and Film

8. An Ambivalent Archetype: Masculinity, Performance and the New Zealand Films of Bruno Lawrence

9. On Reflection: New Zealand Film Reviews from North and South, 1986-1993

10. New Zealand and Australia: Narrative, History, Representation

11. Isola Bella

12. A Literary Modernist: Katherine Mansfield and the Art of the Short Story

13. Small Nations, Big Neighbours: New Zealand & Canada

14. New Zealand, France, and the Pacific

15. New Zealand Filmmakers in Conversation

16. Studies in New Zealand Cinema


Cinema Journeys of the Man Alone: The New Zealand and American Films of Geoff Murphy

Cinema Journeys of the Man Alone: The New Zealand and American Films of Geoff Murphy

Jonathan Rayner

Out of Print
41 pages
ISBN: 0 9530177 3 7
Published - 1999

"An illuminating and perceptive introduction to the films of a key New Zealand filmmaker"
(James Chapman, University of Leicester)

With his films Wild Man (1977), Goodbye Pork Pie (1980) and Utu (1983), Geoff Murphy occupied a pivotal position in the New Zealand film new wave. Against the backdrop of a previously fragmented film industry, the iconoclasm and attendant success of Murphy's films distinguished the director and his work as both commercially successful and nationally specific, in their examination of New Zealand masculinity and identity.

The impact of these early films led Murphy, along with several other contemporary filmmakers from New Zealand and Australia, to pursue a career in the American film industry from the end of the 1980s onwards. While Murphy's American films - Young Guns II (1990), Freejack (1992), and Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995) - continue to embody elements of the visual style which characterised his early work, it is the New Zealand films which distinguish him as a director of national and critical significance.

Murphy's films address key issues of male identity and national character, and present a distinctive Kiwi (and Murphy) trait of anti-authoritarianism. While the representation of male-to-female relationships is underdeveloped in New Zealand film in general, Murphy's films problematise the male-to-male relationships which are usually seen as superior substitutes. Similarly, where violence is seen as a pervasive and inevitable feature of human relationships played out against the New Zealand landscape, the characters in Murphy's films resist temptation, use force in the last resort, and retreat from its repetition. As such, Murphy's films stand as examples but also extensions of the national cinema, and additionally represent a personal, if culturally determined, articulation of aspects of nationality and identity.

This book is the first critical study of Geoff Murphy's films and focuses on questions of masculinity, nationality and identity. The theme of the 'Man Alone' is explored in detail across the New Zealand films Goodbye Pork Pie, Utu and The Quiet Earth (1985), and Murphy's American films Young Guns II, Freejack and Blindside (1993), which are termed here a 'Mid-Atlantic' Cinema. The publication contains a comprehensive filmography, that also includes information on Murphy's short films and television movies, and an extensive bibliography.