The Dead Lands

My research tells me there are few feature films entirely in Māori, and I certainly haven’t seen any of them before now, so this was fascinating.

At its heart is the story of a young man seeking revenge on a much more skilful and brutal warrior after some horrible things happen to his extended family on their own land. Will he perpetuate the deeds of the past? Will he do the honourable thing? How will he gain the skills and knowledge needed to carry out either? Then there are the spiritual aspects – speaking to and seeking guidance from deceased ancestors; what’s honourable and what’s not. And also there are some (at times gory) fight scenes, showcasing the skills of the actors and the almost balletic moves of the warriors in action – different in style from other ‘martial arts’ films.

This is one of those films where I not only enjoyed the entertainment, but also (taking for granted that the historical representation is accurate) learned about the culture and history of the people at that point in time.


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