Sleeping Dogs

This is a film I have been wanting to see for years, so when it popped up on Mubi I had to watch it.

This was Roger Donaldson’s first film, made back in 1977, and starred a young Sam Neill with this film being the third of his career. There was also a cast of New Zealand’s Who’s Who of actors and actresses of the seventies, including Ian Mune (he also wrote the story), Ian Watkin, Davina Whitehouse, and Donna Akersten (Meet the Feebles, Bad Blood). Warren Oates played an American Army dude.

From Wikipedia: In the scene where Warren Oates steps out of his jeep and meets “Smith”, he is actually holding a page of the script, fearing that he’d forget the lines. Oates acted as if the paper was a list of directions to the motel. Ha!.

Sam Neill

The story was simple, and somewhat full of holes and unexplained things. It was a bit disappointed actually, I was expecting a bit more depth. It is basically about the government deciding that repressing the people was a good idea, with Sam’s character involuntarily becoming a member of the resistance and hunted by government thugs. There is one scene in the film which was a talking point at the time (this was a big film when it came out in NZ) involving riot police beating up protesters with plenty of blood flowing. This was quite unthinkable at the time, but a few years later this would actually happen when the South African Rugby team visited NZ, causing riots.

Seeing 1970’s New Zealand was interesting, and there was plenty of beautiful landscapes to look at which made me terribly homesick.

This was the first New Zealand-made feature film to be filmed in 35mm. The next Roger Donaldson film I must see is Smash Palace, which I may have seen a very long time ago, but I have forgotten.

Date watched: February 15th
Score: 6.5/10
Film count 2017: 36


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