Screened as part of NZIFF 2002
This screening is presented in association with the New Zealand Film Archive to commemorate the life and career of John O'Shea. Screening by kind permission of Pacific Films. The New Zealand Film Archive acknowledges the generous support of The Film Unit in striking the new negative and print of Runaway.
'He was a young man in a hungry hurry – his blood on fire', bluffed the ad campaign for New Zealand's first road movie, John O'Shea's Runaway. That was where the resemblance to American moviemaking ended: the kiwi Angry Young Man of 1964 is actually a much cooler customer. David Manning (the handsome, fair and fine-featured Colin Broadley) is a yachting, night-clubbing young blade about Auckland who gets caught 'borrowing' from his employer, and hits the road north. In the Hokianga he divides his time between the gentle courtship of a gauche and lovely young Kiri Te Kanawa, and toy-boy duties with the bored and dangerous Euro-trash wife of the local big noise. (The sultry Nadja Regin's credits included From Russia With Love.) When this gets too much there's only one direction left: south to his roots, via Wellington and Christchurch and into the icy clutches of the Alps. In a mountain hut waits the nemesis of any sensitive New Zealand lad: Barry Crump.
'The most interesting thing about the first locally produced feature to come out of New Zealand in many a year is New Zealand itself', said the British Film Institute's Monthly Film Bulletin, reviewing the truncated version that was released in Britain as Runaway Killer. In many ways this judgement encapsulates what's most compelling about this film for a New Zealand audience in 2002. Our past is a foreign country too and one which we have few opportunities to visit in crisp, 35mm Widescreen. Stunningly shot in black and white by Tony Williams – and more beautiful than ever in the New Zealand Film Archive's new print – Runaway is by far the richest, the most suggestive and the most influential of the three features directed by O'Shea. Though unmistakably sincere in its romantic vision of the tangata whenua – and in its commitment to alientated young manhood – the film's enduring impetus is in O'Shea's manifest desire to synthesize and translate a head full of European cinema into the wide open spaces of New Zealand. — BG