Monday, February 27, 2006

Review: Illustrious Energy

Note: This was written on the bus home, on the iMate JasJar, which I have on loan from Vodafone for a story I'm writing for NZ Management Magazine. Thanks, I guess, to our sponsors!

18 February 2006

What a fantastic afternoon. On her way to work, Marie dropped me off at the Auckland Domain, home of the Auckland War Memorial Museum. I was there to see a free screening of Illustrious Energy.

To get to the museum, I had to walk - a pleasant task under any circumstances, but even better on a stunner of a day like today.

The domain is a special place for me. When my sister and I were little, our mum used to take us to the domain and museum regularly - it felt like every sunday. But we never got bored, looking at exotic pottery, ancient suits of armour or my favourite, the captured mitsubishi zero aeroplane from WWII.

Anyway,back to today. What a magnificent film. The story of chinese immigrants in post-gold rush Otago, torn between the hope of wealth and longing for home. Made in 1987, it was being shown today as part of the museum's chinese new year celebrations.

Director was Leon Narbey, cinematographer on Whale Rider and Number 2. Needless to say, production values were very high on illustrious energy, even though narbey admitted the dvd we were watching was from an inferior print, some of the interiors were too dark, some of the exteriors were too bright, we lost the extreme edges of the frame, etc. Now there is someone who cares about their work.

In the q&a session afterwards, someone asked if the movie was profitable. Narbey and producer Chris Hampson laughed. "of course not; these things never are!"

That brought back other memories from my childhood. Though some remember the 80s as a time of conspicuous consumption, I was separated from the world of business and in the midst of non-profitability, from church to mum's embroiderers guild to the waitakere ranges protection society. I grew up around people who did things because they were there, not because there was money to be made. That's had both good and bad results in my life.

New zealanders are known for being fairly reserved (emotionally, anyway), but when it comes to our art we are raving lunatics. Long may that cintinue, even as our film industry becomes world class and insanely profitable.

Is it possible, I wonder, to have both?


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