Illustrious Energy screens at the Film Archive
Two Chinese goldminers in a remote valley in 1860s Central Otago struggle to improve their lot in Illustrious Energy (1988). The goldrush is over. Their life is tough. When they make a lucky strike on their claim, it seems that they may at last be able to achieve their ambitions.
Chan takes the gold and goes to town to pay their debts. Life in town offers unexpected attractions, not the least being a young woman who’s traveling with a small circus as a magician’s assistant. There’s also an undercurrent of violence towards the Chinese, and Chan returns to his partner thinking that they will both return to China. But fate has different plans in store for Chan before he can finally leave the valley.
“In my opinion this is the most assured and sophisticated of recent New Zealand films. The sensitive, intelligent screenplay by director Leon Narbey and Martin Edmond realistically evokes the way early Chinese immigrants lived. And it does so by viewing the world as they did. The landscape and their relationship to it predominates and gives the film some of its most striking images (the cinematography throughout is excellent). Shaun Bao and Harry Ip give fine performances and in brief supporting roles Peter Chin, Heather Bolton and Geeling are also impressive. The superb work of production designer Janelle Aston, costume designer Trixie Woodill and set dress Judith Crozier is most evident in the shanty town scene. The ” - Douglas Jenkin, Listener, 21 August 1989
“I was tremendously impressed by this uncompromising New Zealand film. By rights, it should become a festival favourite around the world. Its storyline has an essential clarity that reminds me of such classic allegories as Steinbeck’s The Pearl. Leon Narbey’s arresting images render human figures and elemental landscapes with breathtaking assurance. Illustrious Energy makes few concessions to commercial values but is near faultless as a work of art.” - Brian McDonnell, North & South, 1988.
Illustrious Energy will screen at 7pm Wednesday through Saturday, October 23 - 26. At The Film Archive, 84 Taranaki St, Wellington.
Illustrious Energy film screening
When: 7pm, Wednesday through Saturday, 23 - 26 October
Where: The New Zealand Film Archive, 84 Taranaki St, Wellington
Ticket price: $8 general admission / $6 concession