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The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey [Blu-ray]
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Following the release of his 1984 debut feature Vigil, Vincent Ward returned four years later with The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey, a film that would cement his position as one of the most exciting filmmaking talents to emerge during the eighties.
Cumbria, 1348 the year of the Black Death. Griffin, a young boy, is plagued by apocalyptic visions which he believes could save his village. Encouraging a small band of men to tunnel into the earth, they surface in 1980s New Zealand and a future beyond their comprehension but must complete their quest.
Nominated for the Palme d Or at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey is a bold and often startling fusion of medieval fantasy and time travel science fiction, quite unlike anything you ve seen.
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I first saw this film on a late night tv arts channel and it struck a chord then, now having it on dvd I have watched it twice within a few days.
Made at a time when the AIDS epidemic was receiving constant media attention the parallels to that and the plague in the film are obvious but nothing detracts from telling the story.
Starting off in Britain during the Plague the film follows a journey to 'deliver' a cross for fixing to a church steeple. The journey is both physical and one through time as it ends up in present day New Zealand (or as it was when the film was made).
It may sound far-fetched but it is not science fiction it is an intellegent story that really works on all levels.
I thoroughly recommend this film and will be watching it again myself before too long.
The Australian DVD is much better than the shoddy NTSC release - the Australian DVD boasts a superb anamorphic widescreen transfer, trailer and trailers for Ward's Vigil and What Dreams May Come.
The answer to all of those questions if your name is humanity-throughout-history is a resounding yes! That is precisely what we do. We tunnel, or voyage on unsafe vessels or walk, or devote ourselves to dangerous sciences, technologies and engineering that help us to achieve our quests. When viewed in that light what Griffin says, and what the villagers do, is wholly unremarkable. They simply do what everyone generally ends up doing, one way or another.
The stretch is the speed and chosen method with which they reach New Zealand. And there I found myself just having to cut the producers some slack. That way, we get to see how the 14th and 20th centuries interact, or fail to interact with each other. It also gave me a chance to take a step back and think about what an American nuclear submarine, or a nuclear anything, really is.
The Director said that ’The Navigator’ was just an adventure story and viewed in that light, it is no more or no less extraordinary, exciting or plausible than a typical Steven Spielberg film which involves a massive journey: Raiders of the Lost Ark, ET, Close Encounters, Jurassic Park and War of the Worlds.
The title is bland and the sci-fi subhead is a tad misleading. This film is a fantastical voyage into the world of imagination and possibilities – it is what man has always clung to – through real life adventure or faith. You get several interesting extras. 93 minutes. 4 stars.
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