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The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey

Vincent Ward
New Zeland, Australia 1988 / 93’

1348, the year of the Black Death (bubonic plague). A small settlement in wild, rocky mountains, situated in the county of Cumbria in Great Britain. There is a legend saying that you can avoid the plague if you give a tribute to God in the form of a cross placed on the church tower. However, this is only effective if it is done at full moon. In the settlement there lives Griffin: he does not appear any different from his peers, but he has one specific feature: from time to time, either by his own will or against it, he falls into a kind of trance or dream. Usually he sees a big, wonderful city in light. (…)

The inhabitants of the settlement are seized by Griffin's suggestive vision. In the mountains where they live there is an old mine where copper was once mined. They ram one of the walls and, after a few blows, a secret passage appears. After forcing their way through this corridor, a small group led by Griffin arrives at... the antipodes: New Zealand in the year 1988.

Aleksander Ledóchowski, Film



Navigator is essentially about an act of faith - people believing they can change the course of their life. Some historians have likened the 14th century to the 20th century. They were both calamitous ages. The 14th century had plague, war and holocausts, and this century has seen wars on vast scale and the potential for further holocaust. I liked the parallel of the little, isolated village in Cumbria being a pocket skipped over by the plague, and of New Zealand , too, being a little pocket separate from the rest of the world.

Vincent Ward

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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