Navigator: A Mediaeval
Elements of The Navigator, a film directed by
Vincent Ward, are stunning and magical. The beginning of the film is shot
beautifully in black and white with mystical rhythms prevalent. It takes
place during the Middle Ages as the black plague spreads its horror over
Europe and across the waters to England. A small mining village, still
unaffected by the horror, awaits the coming of the plague with surprisingly
calm certainty. Griffin, a young village boy, is having visions of an
extraordinary nature. Griffin’s visions and the world he dreams about are
depicted in color, providing a consistent visual reference, though I must
admit that I was eventually confused. There’s lots of religious symbolism in
the dreams. enhanced by fine editing.
and reality touch for a moment. ©Hen's Tooth
One villager, Connor, has been missing for many days
after leaving the village to find out more about the black plague. When he
returns with news of the plague’s imminent arrival, the villagers heed
Griffin’s visions more closely. There’s a deep pit, an endless pit that
Griffin sees in his dream world that leads to the other end of the world and
salvation. A team of villagers led by Connor with Griffin as guide mine
their way through the depth of the pit into another reality, modern day New
While the stunning surreal images that provided
the mystical spark for the black and white world are still evident,
narrative elements become strained and almost comical. There’s even a touch
of Les Visiteurs, an hilarious French time travel farce, that perhaps
even was inspired by Ward’s work; but in a serious, mystical work, the comic
moments are intrusive, even if they are intentional.
In the end, Ward's work is flawed but often arresting.
It's well worth seeing, though I can't help being disappointed by its
failure to live up to its potential. Ward explored the other-worldly again
in the big production failure
Dreams May Come with Robin Williams. Young Hamish McFarlane is
innocent and virginal as Griffin. Bruce Lyons as Connor is strong and the
picture of youth. Everyone looks a trifle too well groomed for this dark
Not a very good transfer, but serviceable. The black and
white images actually look the best showing off the high key photography to
good effect. There is some excess grain, especially in the color night
sequences. It certainly lacks the sparkle that would have added to the
wonder. Contrast level is not consistent from scene to scene. The image is
not always as sharp as can be. Color saturation lacks strength. The Dolby
Digital 2-channel stereo mix is clear and open. Strong regional accents may
be difficult to understand but through no fault of the recording.
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