A pensive, oddly querulous tribute to New Zealand's 19th century pioneer stills photographers, the Burton Brothers, this is weighed down with a gravely simple lesson in political history that sacrifices both character and drama to sketchy schematics. In the aftermath of the Maori wars, idealistic settler Walter Burton (Vere-Jones) documents the misery of a dying culture while becoming increasingly estranged from his own: he's less the misunderstood artist, though, than one all too well understood by the colonial authorities bent on censoring him. Brother Alfred (Wilson) arrives later, trading on his reputation as a society portraitist and landscape romanticist to give the governmental patrons the images they want. Supporting stereotypes abound, and the ironies are trowelled on. It's handsome and well-meaning enough, but there's hardly a spark of cinema to it.
Cast and crew
Robert Lord, John O'Shea
Kevin J Wilson Peter Vere-Jones Helen Moulder Elizabeth Coulter Terence Bayler Matiu Mareikura Ron Lynn