A real oddity this; a film that follows the fortunes of a group of Fourteenth Century Cumbrian villagers as they embark upon a quest to tunnel through the Earth in search of a church upon which they can erect a bronze cross. They hope that if they achieve this feat before dawn their village will be spared a visitation from the Black Death, which is sweeping through the land.
A young boy, Griffin, leads this expedition, as it is his visions that have convinced the village to act. His 'second-sight' provides vivid dreams of the church and the cross, and also of a strange land. After a seemingly brief amount of tunneling the travellers find themselves in New Zealand in the present day (1988), and the film becomes more surreal as they encounter all the phenomena of the modern age - cars that seem like dragons, huge highways that appear impossible to cross, and various other aspect of technology, that seem to the ignorant and superstitious Cumbrians to be witchcraft.
Acclaimed Kiwi director Vincent Ward has crafted a quirky, enigmatic and at times completely bonkers film; his use of black and white for the sequences in the village give the film an intensity that lifts it from the mundane. Unfortunately, the weak perfomances from the cast of unknowns coupled with the film's confusing and meandering middle section, undermine the plus points and left me feeling quite bemused by the whole thing. There are moments of dark humour and pathos, but overall this is a film that is curiously unsatisfying.