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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


A Cultural Assault: The New Zealand Films of Peter Jackson

A Cultural Assault: The New Zealand Films of Peter Jackson

Barry Keith Grant

Out of Print
36 pages
ISBN: 0 9530177 4 5
Published - 1999

"I'm glad the films I've made have not only been enjoyed by people, but have also been written about in such an intelligent manner"
(Peter Jackson)

"this stands as the definitive analysis of Jackson's fascinatingly diverse body of work to date"
(Steven Jay Schneider, Harvard University, USA)

In only a decade, Peter Jackson has managed to carve a niche for himself within both exploitation and mainstream practices. Jackson's visual imagination was apparent with his first movie, Bad Taste (1987), but its gross-out content continued in his next two films Braindead (1992), and Meet the Feebles (1989), and caused him to be dismissed by many as merely a purveyor of horror movies, albeit perhaps with a mildly amusing, though adolescent, sense of humour.

The subsequent breakthrough of "the Kaiser of Kiwi ketchup" to art cinema auteur, with Heavenly Creatures (1994), was no surprise to perceptive viewers who saw Jackson's style through the splatter. Steadfastly refusing to work away from New Zealand, Jackson's most ambitious project has been the directing of a trilogy of films based on J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, for the American company New Line Cinema; "the biggest cinema production ever undertaken in the Southern Hemisphere", a newspaper declared. Given Jackson's critical and commercial success, his work is crucially important both for New Zealand film specifically and for an understanding of national cinema generally.

To clarify this point, one might usefully compare Jackson to the Canadian director David Cronenberg, who early in his career similarly exploited the horror genre. Both filmmakers work within English-speaking national film industries dominated by American cinema and popular culture. Initially, both were coolly received by the international critical establishment but quickly found an enthusiastic following with horror and exploitation audiences. Both have also extended their work in horror to more highbrow projects, gaining critical respect and ultimately being embraced by official culture as an example of national artistic pride. Like Cronenberg in Canada, Jackson is now regarded in his own country as a respected champion of indigenous filmmaking (a position Jackson hilariously exploits in his mockumentary, Forgotten Silver [1995]).This book is the first critical study of Peter Jackson's films and includes sections on each of his first six productions - from Bad Taste, via Heavenly Creatures and The Frighteners, to Forgotten Silver - as well as consideration of Jackson's childhood 8mm amateur movies and his epic The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The publication concludes with a comprehensive filmography and bibliography.