Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1980s Navigator – a Medieval Odyssey, The (1988)

Navigator – a Medieval Odyssey, The (1988)

An outstanding fable from New Zealand director Vincent Ward, which switches in time between monochrome Cumbria in 1348 and the colourful modern-day Antipodes.

A medieval mining village threatened by the advancing plague sends a group on a journey to find a miraculous cathedral located on the other side of the world in the hope that raising a copper cross on the spire will protect their village from the Black Death.

Nine-year-old Griffin and the group of intrepid miners, however, burrow through the earth and end up in 20th-century New Zealand.

The story could have been the basis for a knockabout time-travel comedy, and indeed, there are some nice gags. Yet Ward is more interested in creating a mythical tale that subtly alludes to the AIDS crisis and the nuclear apocalypse.

To this end, he summons up some extraordinary visual images – drawing draws heavily on the art of Bosch, Bruegel and Grünewald – and elicits a marvellous performance from young Hamish McFarlane.

Bruce Lyons
Hamish McFarlane
Noel Appleby
Marshall Napier
Chris Haywood
Paul Livingston

Vincent Ward