This collection celebrates rugby in New Zealand as it has been seen onscreen: from classic bios and tour docos, to social history, dramas and protest. In the accompanying backgrounders, broadcaster Keith Quinn looks at the on air history of rugby in NZ; and playwright David Geary asks if rugby is a religion, and argues it is a good test of character.
The theatre of sport is given full-blown operatic treatment in this National Film Unit classic. Footage from the French 1979 rugby tour of New Zealand is rendered in slow-motion and cut to a Tchaikovsky score. The result is an often glorious, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, paean to rugby. Balletic lineouts, driving tackles, and the dark mysteries of the ruck, make for a ballsy Swan Lake in the mud. It includes the Bastille Day French victory over the All Blacks. Directed by NFU stalwart Arthur Everard, it won a jury prize at the Montreal World Film Festival.
Arthur Everard spent almost two decades making films for the National Film Unit, including directing award-winning rugby short Score and joining the team behind Commonwealth Games doco Games ’74. In 1984, Everard became New Zealand’s Chief Film Censor, a position he held for six years.
Finola Dwyer, ONZM, began as an editor. After cutting Country Calendar and movie Trial Run, she was encouraged by Larry Parr to become a producer. Three films and a number of TV programmes later, Dwyer began her producing career anew in London in the early 90s. Her work in England stretches from acclaimed Beatles feature Backbeat to Oscar-nominated dramas An Education and Brooklyn.