THE NAVIGATOR: A MEDIEVAL ODYSSEY
Bruce Lyons, Chris Haywood, Hamish McFarlane, Marshall Napier, Noel Appleby, Paul
Livingston, Sarah Pierse
1988, 92 Minutes, Directed by: Vincent Ward
Description: Mystical tale of a tiny 14th-century English hamlet
during the devastation of the Black Plague. Young Griffin (Hamish McFarlane)
has visions of a pilgrimage through the center of the earth. Griffin's older
brother Connor (Bruce Lyons), who has just returned from the dying, diseased
cities of England, leads this great journey to an alien world of metal
beasts and towering ramparts (revealed as a modern New Zealand city) to make
their offering to God. Throughout, Griffin's haunting flashes of the future
taunt him with clues to a death in the party, but they don't reveal who. —
Not to be confused with the mid-1980s Flight of the Navigator kiddies
movie effort, The Navigator is an entirely different proposition altogether.
New Zealand sci-fi epic became a huge hit at art house film festivals across the world.
The story involves a tiny village being threatened by the Black Death in the mid-14th
century. A young boy who has prophetic visions of a "celestial city" sees a
possible way out for the village to be saved from the coming plague: they must place a
spire on a distant cathedral before dawn. A small group of people (including the boy) sets
off in search of this cathedral . . .
The Navigator gets off at a shaky start. It took me a while to get used to the
accents of the various characters and thus the dialogue is difficult to follow at times.
However, one should stick to The Navigator. The movie improves drastically, so that
towards the end one is completely engrossed and transfixed by onscreen events. Also,
despite (or maybe because of) its unusual structure, The Navigator works quite well
as a thrilling time travel tale - so dont be intimidated by the films art
As religious parable The Navigator reminded me both thematically and to a degree
structurally of Tarkovskys last film, The Sacrifice. Its
message of the need for spirituality is however implied and never explicitly rammed down
ones throat. It only comes to one after viewing the movie.
Wholly original, The Navigator put New Zealand-born director Vincent Ward on the
map as a new talent to be taken note of. Ward also worked long on the pre-production of Alien 3 as writer and director before leaving due to creative
differences. After seeing this movie one can only marvel at what movie that would
have been had the money bosses left him alone! Wards later efforts includes Map
of the Human Heart and the "troubled by creative differences" Robin Williams
starrer, What Dreams May Come.
Special note should also be made of the excellent photography by Geoffrey Simpson in
both color and black & white, and the soundtrack by Iranian composer Davood Tabrizi
(who lives in Sidney).
Sci-Fi Movie Page Pick: Not
to be confused with kiddies' movie of similar title.
Stick with this powerful and clever story about time travelling medieval peasants - the
end will leave you reeling.