Watching a country’s cinema is a great way to understand a nation’s psyche.
Below are five great films you should watch to gain a better insight into New Zealand culture. Some might be sourced on the internet or copies can be bought online through auction sites such as amazon or ebay.
- GOODBYE PORK PIE (1980) directed by Geoff Murphy. An indispensible piece of Kiwiana that tells the story of two rebels who goes on the ultimate road trip from the top to bottom of New Zealand to elude police. Although the humour might be dated to modern viewers, it reflects the Kiwi attitude of independence and non-conformity.
- THE PIANO (1993) directed by Jane Campion. This film might be memorable to some Filipinos as some nude scenes were censored by the MTRCB when it was shown in the Philippines. It is a movie about a mute woman sent to 1850s New Zealand along with her young daughter and prized piano for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, but is soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation. It shows the life of the early European settlers, and how they coped with loneliness and isolation in a foreign land.
- BOY (2010) directed by Taika Waititi. The director of this film have went on to make the Hollywood blockbuster movie “Thor: Ragnarok.” But one of his early films was set on the east coast of New Zealand in 1984, about an 11-year-old child and devout Michael Jackson fan, who gets a chance to know his absentee criminal father. Watching this film will give you a glimpse of poverty in rural New Zealand.
- THE WORLD’S FASTEST INDIAN (2005) directed by Roger Donaldson. This is a biographical sports drama based on Invercargill speed bike racer Burt Munro and his highly modified Indian Scout motorcycle. Munro set numerous land speed records for motorcycles with engines less than 1,000 cc at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in the late 1950s and into the 1960s. Being a country isolated from the rest of the world, Kiwis are known to make do with what is available to them to obtain results like in the case of Mr. Munro. This is where the DIY or “Do It Yourself” culture can be best examined.
- ONCE WERE WARRIORS (1994) directed by Lee Tamahori. This movie opened the eyes of cinema goers from all over the world to an unexamined aspect of modern New Zealand life – a depiction of domestic and gang violence amongst urban Maori families.