Blu-Ray Review: Vigil

Whilst he may not be a familiar name to most outside of his homeland, Vincent Ward is without question one of the most influential and important film directors ever to have hailed from New Zealand. What Dreams May Come, which stars Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr, is unquestionably his most famous film. It won an Oscar for its visual effects and Ward is undoubtedly a pioneer in this field. Vigil, and its successor The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey, remain the most visually arresting and inventive films produced by Kiwi cinema.

Toss (Fiona Kay), an 11-year-old girl, lives on a remote farm in the hills. At the same time her father (Gordon Shields) falls to his death whilst trying to rescue a sheep, a strange man (Ethan- Frank Whitten) appears at the farmstead. Her grandfather (Bill Kerr) jumps at the chance of an extra pair of hand to help out whilst her mother (Penelope Stewart) is initially suspicious of the newcomer. However, when her mother begins an affair with the man, Toss begins her sexual awakening.

Vigil is a sprawling and poetic visual feast which shrouds a coming-of-age story within a mysterious drama. Ward has been described as New Zealand’s answer to Werner Herzog and it’s easy to see why. Vigil holds much in common with the likes of Aguirre, The Wrath of God. Aesthetically dazzling, it’s driven by characters and how they react with the world around them. Vigil is strong on symbolism and short on narrative. It’s a lyrical tale of a girl approaching womanhood set against a harsh and unrelenting backdrop.

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
  • On-set report from the long-running New Zealand television programme Country Calendar
  • Extract from a 1987 Kaleidoscope television documentary on New Zealand cinema, focusing on Vigil and Vincent Ward
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Carmen Gray

Vigil is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video on 11 June.

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