My wife and I were at the Sydney Premier for The Dead Lands last night at Moonlight Cinema in Centennial Park. My take on the film was not directly connected to the film but how the film affected the audience as a result of seeing it.
Immediately following the film I was acutely aware of the yearning by many Maori to learn more about their culture, their language and customs. So in this sense the movie had an overwhelmingly positive effect upon the viewer regardless of the blood and violence. We found ourselves walking away speaking Maori to everyone and anyone that we bumped into.
The other prevalent theme that was honour which, reoccurred throughout the movie even in the battle scenes. Honour was at the heart of the actions of the boy and honour drove the two other main characters. It’s not by chance that Maori are asking the government to honour the treaty. Even though the theme is portrayed in a Hollywood type movie it is an aspect that is a central theme to the lives of Maori ancestry.
The Moonlight Cinema is a fantastic location and although Telstra, with whom I have constant battles over poor service, were advertised all over the screen, it was not enough to distract from the balmy night sky and excitement of watching the premier of a New Zealand film under the stars.
Of course there are always things that one cannot help but see that are negative and the one thing that really got to me was the people bringing their mobile phones out and obviously recording the film. Once again (and unfortunately) these folk were of the Polynesian persuasion and I suspect - Maori – the very people who should be protecting and supporting these taonga. Because taonga this film is.