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Film, 1983 (Action, Māori)






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  1. The first 10 minutes of this film.

  2. The trailer for the film.

  3. An excerpt from this feature film.


It's the 1870s, and Māori leader Te Wheke (Anzac Wallace) is fed up by brutal land grabs. He leads a bloody rebellion against the colonial Government, provoking threatened frontiersmen, disgruntled natives, lusty wahine, bible-bashing priests, and kupapa alike to consider the nature of ‘utu’ (retribution). Legendary New Yorker critic Pauline Kael raved about Geoff Murphy’s ambitious follow up to Goodbye Pork Pie: “[He] has an instinct for popular entertainment. He has a deracinated kind of hip lyricism. And they fuse quite miraculously in this epic ...”


A Perspective by Costa Botes 22.10.2008

If there was a renaissance, or ‘new wave' of NZ film making, then Geoff Murphy was riding it, and ride it he did, tall in the saddle with this vastly ambitious, but sometimes vexing ...

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Credits (39)

 Geoff Murphy
 Don Blakeney

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Comments (8)



awesome movie, have a lot of family in here, shows the brutality involved in the land wars and what the musket did to New Zealand as a whole in those times.



Utu was quiet frankly, a historical film that has been made to demonstrate some understanding of how the society of our predecessors acting towards each other and how we understood each other. The films reliability though is questionable but I don't doubt that it's still a great film for general understanding. But then again, I'm only 17, what do I possibly know.



utu was a great movie and it still is cause i still watch it today i dont care how old it is its a awsome film

 Paul Ward

Paul Ward | website

@layla: I believe the Te Wheke character was inspired by a number of Māori figures, most evidently Te Kooti. The infamous "What's the time Mr Wolf" beheading of the Reverend was based on the 1865 murder of missionary Carl Volkner in Opotiki:
Check out the making of Utu for more:



What is the main characters real name, like not their real name but the actual person in real life- the one the story is based on

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Collections.   See all collections ›  

Included in:

 Top 5 NZ Feature Films
 The Bruno Lawrence Collection
 Top 10 NZ Feature Films


For me it is blood for blood. Utu. 
Utu must rate as the most powerful, expert and audience-appealing film yet to be wholly conceived and executed in this country. 
[Geoff Murphy] seems to directing with a grin on his face. 
What's the time Mr Wolf? 


1986 Fantasporto Film Festival (Portugal)
Nominated for Best Film

1983 Cannes Film Festival

Official Selection - out of competition section