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Indigenising the screen: Screenplay and critical analysis for The Prophet

This thesis tests the hypothesis that it is possible to both decolonise and indigenise the New Zealand cinema screen. Secondary research reveals how those discourses that promoted roles and expectations for Māori within the New Zealand film industry were based principally upon historical colonial ideologies imposed by various means upon the native populous, and subsequently reproduced. These discourses of race, gender and religion perpetuate negative belief systems about Māori and contribute to the reproduction of stereotypical images of Māori, such as the irrational, naive, simpleminded and warlike Māori man, or the domesticated, lustful and sexually available Māori woman. Research by creative practice advances the project of decolonising the New Zealand screen through the writing of a feature length screenplay based on careful research and intimate cultural knowledge, and by working according to an appropriate kaupapa Māori framework. The resulting screenplay, The Prophet, brings to life the multitude of forces that coalesced to shape the life of 19th century Māori warrior and prophet, Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Tūruki. In his death, as in his life, he remains an enigmatic figure. In written accounts and in Pākehā memories he appears as a violent rebel, mass murderer and religious fanatic. This epic re-telling focuses on the character of Te Kooti, showing him to be a man who accomplished great feats in the face of injustice, adversity and hardship. A critical analysis of the screenplay reveals how I adopted a unique cross cultural writing approach drawing upon both the 'classic' western narrative structure as well as kaupapa Māori pūrākau oral tradition. I argue that this approach combines effectively to materialise strong anti-colonial perspectives aimed specifically at subverting long-held and dominant colonial discourses. Such an approach to scriptwriting rejects the tradition of being defined, constructed and represented through discourses that serve to promote the interests of the Pākehā majority and, in doing so, urges the utilisation of Māori philosophies, concepts and practices in the scriptwriting/film production process.
Type of thesis
Bristowe, J. C. (2009). Indigenising the screen: Screenplay and critical analysis for The Prophet (Thesis). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/3597
The University of Waikato
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