In My Father's Den (film)

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In My Father's Den
In My Father's Den movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Brad McGann
Produced by Trevor Haysom
Dixie Linder
Written by Maurice Gee (novel)
Brad McGann
Starring Matthew Macfadyen
Emily Barclay
Miranda Otto
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • 7 October 2004 (2004-10-07)
Running time
128 minutes
Country New Zealand
Language English
Budget ~ NZ$7,000,000

In My Father's Den is a 2004 New Zealand film written and directed by Brad McGann and starring Matthew Macfadyen and Emily Barclay. It is based on the novel of the same title by Maurice Gee. The film was released in October 2004 to glowing reviews.[1]


Paul Prior (Matthew Macfadyen), a disillusioned and battle-weary war photographer, decides to return home to an isolated town in the South Island of New Zealand. His brother Andrew (Colin Moy), a local ostrich farmer, is caught off-guard by Paul's sudden reappearance after 17 years away. Worlds apart, they barely recognise each other. Andrew, a pious man, pressures Paul into staying to help sort out the sale of their father's cottage and the adjoining orchard. Andrew is married to the highly religious Penny (Miranda Otto).

Reluctantly revisiting the dilapidated family property, Paul discovers the old den tucked away in the equipment shed. It belonged to his orchardist father Jeff (Matthew Chamberlain) who, away from his puritanical wife Iris (Vanessa Riddell), had secretly harboured a love of wine, literature and free-thinking philosophy. When Paul as a child had accidentally stumbled upon this wondrous booklined universe, he had been included in his father's secret, promising never to tell anyone about it.

Jonathan, an aspiring photographer, was given a camera by Paul and used it to take pictures of an unknowing Celia; Andrew found them and took the camera and the photos. Penny stumbled upon them in Andrew's desk, and assumed Celia was Andrew's lover.

Jonathan calls the police, and Andrew, taking the blame for his wife, is arrested. Celia's body is found in a river, and after the funeral, Paul burns the den and reconciles with Jackie. The film closes with a flashback to the last time Paul saw Celia; they openly talk about being siblings, and they say goodbye as she walks down the road to her untimely death.



The film won the Fipresci Prize at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival, the Mercedes Benz Youth Jury Prize at the 52nd San Sebastián International Film Festival in Spain in the same year, the Special Jury Prize at the Seattle International Film Festival in 2005 and the Grand Prix at the 2005 Festival du Film Britannique de Dinard. It became one of the top 10 grossing New Zealand films.[3]

Critical reaction[edit]

The website, which compiles mostly North American reviews, gives the film a 100 per cent "fresh" rating, meaning consistently positive reviews, and with an average rating of 7.2 out of 10. The latter figure is the average from seven reviews. The film also garnered acclaim in many publications. A reviewer for The Australian described the film as "one of the best films I have ever seen". Meanwhile, Empire described that "director Brad McGann reveals great skill and bravery in the way he brings the story's insular world to life". Tragically, McGann did not have an opportunity to direct more films as he died of cancer in 2007.[4]


  1. ^ In My Father's Den - Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes
  2. ^
  3. ^ Signature Television
  4. ^ "In My Father's Den". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 

External links[edit]