Utu (film)

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Utu (film).jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Geoff Murphy
Produced by Geoff Murphy
Written by Geoff Murphy
Keith Aberdein
Starring Zac Wallace
Bruno Lawrence
Kelly Johnson
Wi Kuki Kaa
Tim Elliot
Merata Mita
Tania Bristowe
Martyn Sanderson
Ilona Rodgers
Music by John Charles
Cinematography Graeme Cowley
Edited by Michael J. Horton
Release dates
Running time
104 min.
Country New Zealand
Language English & Maori
Box office NZ $600,000 (est) (New Zealand)[1]

Utu is a 1983 New Zealand movie directed and co-written by Geoff Murphy. Anzac Wallace, who had done little acting up until that point, takes the starring role of Te Wheke, a warrior who sets out to get vengeance after British forces kill his people. The cast also includes Bruno Lawrence and Kelly Johnson. Sometimes described as "a Maori Western", Utu was reputed to have one of the largest budgets for a New Zealand film up until that time.

The film screened out of competition at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival,[2] and became the second most successful local movie released in New Zealand to that date. Positive reviews in America, including a rave review from Pauline Kael, helped win Murphy directing work in Hollywood.

Partly inspired by events from Te Kooti's War, the film tells of a Māori soldier setting out to get utu, or vengeance, on his former allies after the British army destroys his home village and kills his uncle. The film is set in the 1870s.

In 2013, partly thanks to the longtime existence of an alternative cut of the film aimed at international audiences, which Geoff Murphy had never been happy with, he completed work on a restored and recut version. Utu Redux, as it is known, premiered at the Wellington International Film Festival on 26 July 2013.



  1. ^ Mike Nicolaidi, "New Zealand", Cinema Papers, March 1986 p8
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Forbidden Relations". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-06-22. 

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