The River Queen is Vincent Ward’s film set during the Maori wars. Vincent Ward is a famous New Zealand director, nominated for two Golden Palms. The River Queen won New Zealand Screen Award for the best achievement in Cinematography, and Golden Goblet Award for best music. His new work The River Queen is a historical drama, which described the events of 1860s. The River Queen was produced in 2005 and was released in January 26 in New Zealand. The film is set in the late 19th century in New Zeeland. Sarah O’Briend (Smantha Morton) is trapped between two different worlds.

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Originally Irish, she was brought up in a frontier garrison on the Great River. She grew up during the war between Maori tribes and British army. Sarah falls in love with Maori boy and gives birth to a child, who becomes the representative of two cultures. When her child is kidnapped, Sarah starts long and exhausting search for her son. When she finally manages to see him several years later she realizes that he has become a Maori warrior during the time they have been separated. Both, Sarah and her son are tired apart between two different worlds. The director Vincent Ward did a perfect job describing feelings and emotions of a mother, who is in search for her son. The play of young actor, Rawiri Pene, who plays Sarah’s son is brilliant.
Scenery makes the film not only historical and psychological drama, but also a very bright and picturesque picture, which fascinates the audience. The landscapes and play of colour and saturation create very beautiful pictures. The music is also a good director’s find. It helps to recreate at atmosphere of the film.
The film gives a feedback to 1890s, when Europeans made attempts to colonize New Zealand. The depiction of historical data is accurate and those, who are interested in the history of the colonization of New Zealand, can enjoy this movie.
Warm managed to reproduce the beauty of New Zealand and important historical period of the Maori wars. The conflict of the main characters is developed on the background of beautiful landscapes and beautiful nature. The movie has some parallels with Mann’s The Last of the Mohicans. The conflict of the main characters illustrates the results of colonisation and ways it affected the lives of ordinary people. I believe that the theme chosen by the author is very interesting because on the example of Sarah, the protagonist of the movie, the director shows that wars and conflicts became devastating and harmful not only for Maori people, but also for the British civil people, who became involved in this wars. The theme of colonization and resistance is an important part of New Zealand history, which can not be forgotten.
The part of the history, depicted together with the individual story, creates an emotional appeal to the audience and helps the director to pass his message to the spectators. Wonderful play of Samantha Norton helps to pass the feelings of a mother who looses her child. Beautiful scenery and well-chosen music create necessary atmosphere and create a beautiful background to the tragic story. The audience gets a perfect opportunity to get an insight into the life and culture of New Zealand tribes and see beautiful nature of this country.
I like the movie a lot I believe that it can be interesting for different kind of audience. People who like history can find interesting facts about the colonization of New Zealand in this movie. Those, who like melodramatic film will, most probably, also enjoy The River Queen. Those, who appreciate the beauty, will appreciate perfect Ward’s directing.
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