Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Film noir, Prog Rock, Circus, Freak-show, Trance, Funeral Brass Band, Voodoo... The stylistic lineages fuse and collide.” — Lucien Johnson
Director: Geoff Murphy
Year: 2009
Country: New Zealand
Running time: 75 mins

New Zealand
Producers: Lucien Johnson, Anthony Donaldson
Co-producer: Howard Taylor
Photography: Hepi Mita, Miles Murphy, Geoff Murphy, Paul Murphy, Gaylene Preston, Phil Burchell
Sound: Matt Aickin, Lucien Johnson
Music: Lucien Johnson

With: Village of the Idiots

Here's a remarkably successful merging of outré creative personalities: Wellington-raised, Paris-based saxophonist Lucien Johnson; the founding father of American Gothic, poet Edgar Allen Poe; and veteran Kiwi filmmaker and iconoclast Geoff Murphy (Utu). Johnson has composed an exuberantly dark and eclectic jazz-rock-cabaret score to a suite of Poe's macabre poems and assembled a group of local avant-garde virtuosos to perform it with him. Musically, it's an amazing trip, referencing so many styles that it's like running the gamut of the dial on your radio – except that every unexpected change of station is a suavely swaying progression. Murphy filmed a concert of the work on the stage at Waimarama and then spent a year creating a CGI world of weird funereal splendour to elaborate on the band's dramatic enactments of scenes from the Poe texts. The briefest clip of Bruno Lawrence on drums is right at home: this carnival of the souls is as invigorating as any of the Blerta escapades that kicked a film industry into life here 30+ years ago. — BG


Listen to RadioNZ's recent interview with Geoff Murphy.