Sunday Matinee: The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey

Getting released this week on Blu-ray from Arrow Films is this excellent but forgot 1988 New Zealand film from director Vincent Ward, The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey.

Set in the 14th century in a Cumbrian mountain village, the townsfolk are in a panic when they hear that the black plague is coming to them. Desperate to save themselves they listen to a young village boy who has visions, Griffin (Hamish McFarlane). His vision says that they must dig and travel to the farside of the world.

They take they finest copper ore and they plan on melting it to make a cross that has to be put on the top of the highest church in all Christendom. Somehow this will help save the village. A group lead by village hero Connor (Bruce Lyons) tunnel their way into the earth. When they come out the otherside they find themselves in modern day (1980s) New Zealand. The movie has been in black and white up till this point and now that they are in the modern world the movie switches to colour. They then try and find a church to hang their cross on.

The movie was a critical hit when it was released and it even tried for the Palm D’Or at Cannes which it didn’t win. After watching the movie producer Walter Hill wanted Vincent Ward to take over from William Gibson and Renny Harlin for Alien 3. Ward wanted to have the movie set on a wooden space monastery run by monks who didn’t like technology. The idea was scraped and changed into a prison planet and Ward left the movie and David Fincher took over. Ward would go on to direct Map of the Human Heart and What Dreams May Come.

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