June 07, 2024

The Convert: The Epic Story That Revives Precolonial New Zealand

Discover how «The Convert» immerses us in a vibrant historical journey full of action, faith, and Māori culture. Lee Tamahori’s film promises to be a cinematic milestone you won’t want to miss.

The Convert: The Epic Story That Revives Precolonial New Zealand

Can you imagine going back in time and living in 19th-century New Zealand? If you’re a fan of epic stories full of action and culture, get ready to be transported with “The Convert,” the new and exciting film project by Lee Tamahori.

Synopsis of The Convert

In 19th-century New Zealand, newly arrived preacher Thomas Munro finds himself at the center of an ancient conflict between two Māori tribes. As Munro delves into this new and challenging world, he must confront his past and his own beliefs in a story that explores faith, transformation, and the nature of violence. The Convert offers an authentic and thrilling depiction of the precolonial culture of Aotearoa, standing out as one of the most ambitious and captivating productions about indigenous history and traditions.

From Novel to Big Screen: The Genesis of The Convert

It all began over a decade ago when producer Robin Scholes came across the book “Wulf,” based on the diaries of two young English sailors. The plot revolved around the trade of flax for muskets in New Zealand. However, Scholes and her team, including the talented Brad Haami, decided to go beyond historical records and create a fictional yet authentic narrative that captured the essence of Māori culture.

An Ambitious and Collaborative Project

In 2015, Scholes partnered with Australian producers Troy Lum and Andrew Mason, who saw the international potential of the story. The Convert not only focuses on local history but also addresses universal themes such as redemption and sacrifice, and explores indigenous issues that resonate in many parts of the world.

Transforming the Protagonist: From Religious Zealot to Humanist

Initially, the main character, Thomas Munro, was a fervent religious zealot, something that didn’t convince Tamahori. However, after researching the Church Missionary Society in New Zealand, he decided to reinvent Munro as a humanist and naturalist. This change made the character more realistic and attractive, a man seeking to escape his past in Europe and finding more than he expected in the distant lands of New Zealand.

Māori Culture: An Authentic Approach

Authenticity in the portrayal of Māori culture is one of the pillars of The Convert. Brad Haami, who initially participated as a producer, spent almost a year creating fictional genealogies for the characters based on Māori traditions and historical conflicts. This adds a unique depth to the story, even if these details are not directly visible on screen.

Challenges and Triumphs in Production

Like any major production, The Convert faced challenges, especially in financing. Fortunately, a post-Covid production fund from the New Zealand government allowed the project to come to fruition. Additionally, the collaboration between New Zealand and Australia was essential, combining the stunning landscapes and local talents with Australia’s experts in visual effects and music.

Cast of The Convert

Director Lee Tamahori finally managed to bring the talented Guy Pearce on board for the lead role of Thomas Munro in The Convert. Tamahori had wanted to work with Pearce for over 25 years, and the production delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic allowed them to coincide in this ambitious film. Pearce, intrigued by the exploration of how two very different cultures try to coexist, accepted the role. Alongside Pearce, Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne stands out as Rangimai, the daughter of Chief Maianui. Her performance is praised for its authenticity and depth, portraying a strong woman deeply rooted in Māori culture. Actress Jacqui Mackenzie also shines as Charlotte Hegarty, a complex character that Tamahori developed to enrich the narrative and provide a unique female perspective. The cast is completed by veterans Lawrence Makoare and Antonio Te Maioha, who portray rival chiefs Akātarewa and Maianui, bringing convincing realism to this epic story.

The Convert is much more than a historical film; it is a cinematic experience that promises to both thrill and educate. Get ready to dive into an adventure full of action, drama, and a rich cultural representation that will surely leave you reflecting. Magnet Releasing will premiere The Convert in theaters and on-demand on July 12, 2024.

Publicación original en ESPAÑOL