Blu-ray Review: The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey

When Ridley Scott produced a new standard for science-fiction film-making with the release of Alien in 1979, I don’t think anyone could have foreseen where the franchise would end-up. After the action horror of Aliens, it took a rather leftfield step. Alien 3 had familiar elements but went in a totally unexpected direction. Much of this was down to Vincent Ward’s script which was overflowing with religious symbolism. In many ways it was a natural progression from his third film, The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey.

Set in 14th century England, the inhabitants of a remote Cumbrian village speak in hushed tones of the dark plague which is spreading across the land. They rely on the visions of Griffin (Hamish Gough), a boy with second sight, who instructs them to place a cross on the steeple of the biggest Church in all the land. Led by the heroic Connor (Bruce Lyons), they proceed to tunnel to the other side of the world and emerge in 20th century New Zealand.

As you may imagine, The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey is a rather odd and unusual film. Building on his previous film Vigil. Vincent Ward begins to expand on familiar themes of faith, devotion, sacrifice and prophesy. The 14th century is painted in dingy monochrome whilst the 20th Century twinkles like a Christmas tree, but all that glitters isn’t necessarily gold. The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey is a criminally underappreciated fantasy film which captures Ward at his most imaginative.

Special Edition Contents:

• High Definition (Blu-ray) presentation

• Original mono audio (uncompressed LPCM)

• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing

• Brand-new appreciation by film critic Nick Roddick, recorded exclusively for this release

• Kaleidoscope: Vincent Ward – Film Maker, a 1989 documentary profile of the director made for New Zealand television

• Theatrical trailer

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Kim Newman and an introduction by Vincent Ward

The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video on 23 July.

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