Vincent Ward

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Vincent Ward , ONZM (born February 16, 1956 in Greytown, Wellington , New Zealand ) is a New Zealand film director and screenwriter .


Vincent Ward was born to Judy Ward, a Jew who fled Germany in 1933, and the youngest of four children of Pat Ward, the father of a New Zealand farmer in the third generation, war returnees and of Catholic-Irish descent. Ward grew up on a fairly isolated farm in sparsely populated Wairarapa .

Ward first studied fine arts and painting in 1974 , then film at the Ilam School of Fine Arts ( University of Canterbury ).

At that time New Zealand's film industry was practically emerging.

In 2000 he lived and worked in Australia and the United States. After living in Sydney in 2006, he moved to a suburb of Auckland . In 2007, he worked for the New Zealand-based production company The Sweet Shop , where he also shot commercials for Goodman Fielder , Singapore Airlines and Saatchi and Saatchi .


Ward earned an Honors degree in Fine Arts in late 1979 and made two acclaimed short films before making his first full-length feature film, the lyrical but chilled, oppressive Vigil (in competition at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival ). Ward's next work, The Navigator , took four years to produce, ran in Cannes , albeit unsuccessfully, and received several international awards.

Escape from the Ice ( 1993 ), a surreal romance set in World War II, was only mediocre at the box office, but was partially accepted by critics. Jason Scott Lee and Anne Parillaud played the leading roles there.

After escaping the ice , Ward wrote one of the stories for Alien 3 with John Fasano , and was in discussion to direct it, but the financial support could not accept his idea of ​​a spiritual parable written by monks on a huge wooden ark in the Space acts (" Bosch in Space " - Vincent Ward). He was asked to leave the project. But some of his ideas actually survived. In the early stages of Last Samurai , after extensive research, he was involved in a script. Nevertheless, he continued towards the big budget : the Hollywood-compatible effect film Behind the Horizon ($ 85 million) with Robin Williams and Annabella Sciorra was released in 1998.

River Queen ( 2005 ) is set in the New Zealand Wars of the 19th century and is prominently cast with Samantha Morton , Kiefer Sutherland, and Cliff Curtis and Temuera Morrison . Notably, Ward was released from directing towards the end of the shoot, but returned to post-production only weeks later. The film is dedicated to Māori chief Riwha Titokowaru (* 1823), Caroline Perrett and Ann Evans, whose lives served as inspiration. The eponymous river is the Whanganui River . The film started in the Federal Republic of Germany on May 9, 2007 directly on DVD. The subsequent partial documentary Rain of the Children celebrated its world premiere on June 7, 2008 at 6:30 p.m. in the State Theater, Sydney as part of the Sydney Film Festival .

In A State of Siege , Vigil and River Queen was Alun Bollinger behind the camera. John Maynard produced the first films.

A closer look

  • In Spring One Plants Alone (1981), a documentary depicts the everyday life of an older Māori - kuia named Puhi and their coexistence with the schizophrenic son. He will return to their story in 2008 with Rain of the Children .
  • Lexicon of the international film on Vigil (1984): "The demanding film is worth seeing for an attentive audience."
  • The partly surrealistic The Navigator (1987) opened in Cumbria in 1348 at the time of the plague . Led by a young prophet, a group of miners digs a tunnel through the globe into present-day New Zealand to redeem their village. About half of the budget was spent on (black and white) special effects , and most of the film was actually made in the studio. The certainly existing imbalance between visual demands on the one hand and narrative on the other hand did not detract from the standing ovations that were received at the screening in Cannes .
  • The passionate Map of the Human Heart (1992) accompanies an Inuk from the Canadian Arctic to Montreal, the film leads back to the Arctic, then to Europe, where it shows the Dresden firestorm in 1945, and ends again in the eternal ice. Lynette Read sees it as an autobiographical “ retelling of the love story of his parents, changed by the imagination, in a poetic instead of naturalistic way ”. The New York Times stated at the time: “ Even by Ward's standards [...] a strange film. “( Janet Maslin ). Miramax had to sell the film to Disney for video exploitation. Roger Ebert showed the film among many others at his Overlooked Film Festival 2005 on April 23, 2005 at the University of Illinois in a 1600-seat cinema. Vincent Ward and Jason Scott Lee attended the performance. The film is actually designed around images .

Ward enjoys shooting with children and teenagers. Read describes him on the set, always subjectively, as charismatic and visual, yes visionary, with a penchant for perfectionism, and also as determined. In particular, the selection of the locations is made with great effort and without regard to the kilometers covered, and inhospitable conditions do not deter him. Both Map of the Human Heart and River Queen suffered from difficult production conditions, but still did not fail completely.

Stephanie Rains sees the filmmaker as concerned with “ideas about belonging and familiarity [...] consistently both as aesthetic and cultural concerns” and, according to Michael Wilmington, the works “less about action than about perception” . A post-colonial reading is particularly appropriate .

Read sees him as an aesthetic auteur filmmaker in the tradition of romanticism and expressionism (" interiority "), staging with European, especially German, influences, and attests to him an extraordinary feeling for image and sound creation . A State of Siege and Vigil can be related to the - also New Zealand - Gothic style. Religious references, and more generally, spirituality, are evident in his previous work.

According to Read, his ongoing themes are internal and external travel and identity . Ward himself refuses to categorize himself and does not want to be categorized.

"There is no doubt that Ward would literally go to the end of the world for an unforgettable picture."

- Costa Botes : The Dominion

“What happens between people and how the film develops is important; Which country he plays in is almost irrelevant. "

- Vincent Ward


In Leaving Las Vegas and One Night Stand with Mike Figgis and in Geoff Murphys Spooked (OT), Ward can be seen in guest appearances on the screen.

In 2002 he named Andrej Rublev his favorite film for the BFI (“ best films of all time ”), followed by La Strada - Das Lied der Straße .


  • 1978: A State of Siege (short film)
  • 1981: In Spring One Plants Alone (short film)
  • 1984: Vigil (Director and Writer)
  • 1987: The Navigator ( The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey , Director and Story)
  • 1992: Alien 3 ( Alien³ , Story)
  • 1992: Escape from the Ice ( Map of the Human Heart , direction and story)
  • 1998: Beyond the Horizon ( What Dreams May Come , director)
  • 2003: Last Samurai ( The Last Samurai , executive producer)
  • 2005: River Queen (Director, Writer and Story)
  • 2008: Rain of the Children (director, writer and narrator)


  • Vincent Ward: Edge of the earth: stories and images from the antipodes . Heinemann Reed, Auckland 1990, ISBN 0-7900-0146-2 .
  • Lynette Read: Vincent Ward: The Emergence of an Aesthetic. PhD thesis . University of Auckland, Auckland 2004 ( online [accessed May 21, 2019]).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Document , accessed October 12, 2007.
  2. a b IMDb .
  3. Life data mainly from Read, Chapter 2 from p. 62. Read, p. 53, p. 64, p. 1, p. 19.
  4. Rob Edelman: Vincent Ward (2000) in International Dictionary of Film and Filmmakers , accessed March 30, 2008.
  5. ^ Anne Beston : New Year Honors: Film-maker a trailblazer . In: New Zealand Herald . NZME. Publishing , December 30, 2006, accessed May 21, 2019 .
  6. Read, p. 126 f., P. 157 f.
  7. Read, p. 212 ff., P. 175 f.
  8. ^ Read, p. 262.
  9. Read, p. 278.
  10. ^ Peter Calder: Ward returns to ride 'River' in Variety, December 27, 2004, accessed October 12, 2007.
  11. End credits.
  12. ^ The Art of World Cinema: River Queen . The Writing Studio , archived from the original on May 26, 2008 ; accessed on May 18, 2019 (English, original website no longer available).
  13. Mostly based on Read, who focuses on the early work.
  14. Lexicon of International Films , p. 3445.
  15. a b Read, p. 244 ff.
  16. ^ Read, p. 240.
  17. ^ Read, p. 248.
  18. Read, p. 37.
  19. ^ Read, p. 277.
  20. Roger Ebert : Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival! . University of Illinois April 20, 2005, archived from the original March 4, 2016 ; accessed on May 18, 2019 (English, original website no longer available).
  21. Read, p. 264 f.
  22. ^ Read, p. 268.
  23. ^ "Ideas of belonging and familiarity [...] a consistency of both aesthetic and cultural concerns. […] Less of action than of perception “ Ian Conrich, Stuart Murray: New Zealand filmmakers . Wayne State University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-8143-3017-7 , pp. 280 (English, limited preview in Google Book Search).
  24. Read, p. 2 f., P. 9, p. 31 f.
  25. Read, p. 188, based on an interview, on Vigil .
  26. International Film Collection - Study Guide for Vigil (1984). University of Wisconsin-River Falls , May 2, 2007, archived from the original on August 28, 2008 ; accessed on January 7, 2016 (English, original website no longer available).
  27. Read, p. 41, p. 60 f.
  28. Read, p. 79, p. 252 ff., P. 304., p. 312.
  29. Read, p. 304 f., P. 78, p. 175.
  30. Read, p. 2, p. 304, p. 317.
  31. Read, p. 271.
  32. Read, p. 206, from the press kit for Vigil , translation by Wikipedia. Read on, p. 175, from p. 208 and p. 314.
  33. ^ Document , accessed March 30, 2008.