Geoff Murphy first made his mark as one of the new wave of New Zealand filmmakers to emerge during the 70s. After enjoying local success with a trio of hit features, he spent a decade directing in Hollywood before returning home in the early 2000s. Noted for his skill at action, knockabout comedy, and melding genres, his early works have more than stood the test of time.
1969 TV drama Tank Busters marks one of Murphy's early directorial outings. Made for $4000 with the help of his mates, the story follows a group of Wellington university students on a quest to crack a campus safe. The film also features an appearance from a bongo-playing Bruno Lawrence, who would go on to star in several of Murphy's later features.
Dance All around the World
Murphy and Lawrence were both founding members of Blerta, the legendary Kiwi music and theatre cooperative of the early 70s. This video for their anthem Dance All around the World is taken from Murphy's acclaimed documentary about the group.
1977's Wildman was Murphy's first cinema feature, which he co-wrote, directed and also appeared in. The film was set in the mud-soaked West Coast, with the Blerta ensemble creating a slapstick tale of pioneer con men.
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Goodbye Pork Pie
Goodbye Pork Pie was the film that really put Murphy on the map. Made in 1981, with a small budget and a cast and crew of only 24, it quickly became a box office smash. Goodbye Pork Pie proved to local audiences that New Zealanders could make blockbusters. Its yellow Mini and catchphrase "We're takin' this bloody car to Invercargill boy" have rightfully become Kiwi pop culture gold.
Goodbye Pork Pie was the first in a run of hits for Murphy, followed by 1983's Utu. Set in colonial New Zealand, the film was an epic production, following a Māori leader on his bloody path to seek 'utu' (retribution) during the 1870s land wars. As well as enjoying local box office success, Utu was the second Kiwi film officially invited to Cannes.
The Quiet Earth
30 years on, The Quiet Earth still packs a powerful punch. In it, Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence) wakes to find himself in a post apocalyptic nightmare, seemingly the only living being left on earth. The film performed strongly both at home and offshore, and has gone on to be regarded as something of a cult classic. Upon its release in the US, the Los Angeles Daily News dubbed it "quite simply the best science-fiction film of the 80s."