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River Queen

Vincent Ward
New Zeland, UK 2005 / 114’

Sarah O'Brien is a young Irishwoman in 1860s New Zealand and the daughter of a surgeon employed by the British army. He has very mixed feelings about his employers, and finds himself implicated in the army's brutal clearances which desecrate sacred Maori lands. As tension builds between the soldiers and the tribesmen, Sarah falls in love with a Maori and bears his child - and then the father dies. When the confrontation between the indigenous peoples and their imperial oppressor reaches a crisis, a Maori chieftain kidnaps the child (his grandchild). Sarah must now begin an epic search for her son, and in doing so confronts a terrible dilemma: to which tribe does she belong?

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian


The haunting interior landscape of New Zealand - its verdant green canopy tumbling into roiling, shadowy rapids - is the otherworldly universe that frames this film. Nature's terrible powers have long guided the visually astonishing work of Vincent Ward; The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey remains one of the most pictorially lush films ever made. But in River Queen, we contend with an additional force of nature: a mother's indomitable strength of will when forced to protect her son. As she is torn between two cultures and the loves of two men Sarah remains motivated by her survival , her desperation to reunite with her son.

Jane Schoettle, IFF Toronto 2005

Vincent Ward was born in 1956 in Greytown. His mother was a Hamburg-born Jew who fled Nazi Germany to Palestine, his father was from New Zealand. He started in theatre and then move into fine arts, film drama, and then documentaries. He attended the Ilam School of Art in Christchurch, then went to Fine Arts School in Cantenbury, where in early 1978 he was given leave. He left for Te Urewera where he want to realize In Spring One Plants Alone, which was finished in 1980. In 1978 he made A State of Siege based on Janet Frame's novel and six years later he directed Vigil, which was the first film form New Zealand screened at Cannes festival. 1988 saw him directing The Navigator: A Medieval Oddysey, also shown in Cannes. In 1992 he directed Map of the Human Heart which had a $34 million budget compared with $2 million for The Navigator. He worked on the script for Alien 3, at the time of writing he was filming What Dreams May Come. In 2003 Ward produced The Last Samurai by Edward Zwick. Two years later he directed River Queen and this year - documentary Rain of the Children.


1978 A State of Siege (śr.m. / mid.)

1980 In Spring One Plants Alone (śr.m. / mid.)

1984 Dojrzewanie / Vigil

1988 Nawigator: odyseja średniowieczna / The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey

1992 Mapa ludzkiego serca / Map of the Human Heart

1998 Między piekłem a niebem / What Dreams May Come

2005 River Queen

2008 Rain of the Children

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