×

New Zealand Film Icon Geoff Murphy Dies at 80

Iconic New Zealand film maker, Geoff Murphy, known for “The Quiet Earth” and work on “Dante’s Peak,” has died. He was 80.

Murphy’s death on Monday was confirmed by the New Zealand Film Commission. The organization called him “one of the leading figures in New Zealand cinema’s renaissance of the late 1970s and 1980s.”

A writer, director and producer, Murphy directed three films in that period – “Goodbye Pork Pie,” “Utu,” and “The Quiet Earth” – that were timely and locally-rooted. They are now considered as Kiwi classics.

Murphy’s creative career kicked off as a founding member of musical, theatrical troupe Blerta. His first film, “Wild Man” was largely developed and improvised by Blerta regulars. Murphy’s road movie “Never Say Die,” gave Temuera Morrison (“Once Were Warriors,” “Aquaman”) his first starring role.

“At the end of the 1980s, Geoff worked mainly in the U.S., directing films like ‘Young Guns II,’ and ‘Under Siege 2,’ while making meaningful contributions as a second unit director on films like ‘Dante’s Peak’ and Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’,” the NZFC said in a tribute.

The early part of the 21st century was spent piecing together skits, shorts and musical performances from the Blerta archives to create the documentary “Blerta Revisited” in 2001. Murphy’s first New Zealand feature film in fourteen years “Spooked,” a cyber-thriller starring Cliff Curtis, was released in 2014.

Murphy was widely recognized by government and the New Zealand arts community. He collected a lifetime achievement award at the Moa New Zealand Film Awards, was named as one of twenty arts icons by the Arts Foundation, and in 2014 was awarded an New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s New Year Honors. In 2015 his autobiography, “A Life on Film” was published by Harper Collins.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Finding Farideh

    Oscars: Iran Picks Doc 'Finding Farideh' As International Feature Film Contender

    “Finding Farideh,” a feature-length documentary about an Iranian girl adopted at infancy by a Dutch couple who 40 years later travels to Iran in search of her biological parents, is Iran’s candidate for the recently renamed International Feature Film Oscar. Co-directed by young Tehran-based duo Azadeh Mousavi and Kourosh Ataee, the doc bridges East and West. [...]

  • Dogs Don’t Wear Pants

    Buyers Catch Valkeapaa's ‘Dogs Don’t Wear Pants’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Rolling off its Cannes Directors’ Fortnight world bow, J.-P. Valkeapää’s BDSM movie “Dogs Don’t Wear Pants” has been sold by The Yellow Affair to new U.K. distributor Anti-Worlds for the U.K. and Ireland, as well as to The Klockworx Co for Japan, Ama Films for Greece, HHG for Russia/CIS, Pilot Film for the Czech Republic [...]

  • 'Kix,' 'Frem' Win Docu Talent Awards

    'Kix,' 'Frem' Win Docu Talent Awards at Sarajevo Film Festival

    Hungary’s “Kix” and Czech Republic’s “Frem” won the Docu Talent Awards, chosen from a field of 10 documentary features from Central and Eastern Europe, at the Sarajevo Film Festival on Sunday. “Kix,” directed by David Mikulan and Balint Revesz, is the story of Sanyi, a troubled youth, as he grows from eight to 18, morphing [...]

  • The Garden

    Bragason Brings ‘Woman at War’s’ Geirharosdottir to ‘The Garden’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Acclaimed actress Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir, best known for “Woman at War,” is set to star in writer/director Ragnar Bragason’s dark comedy “The Garden.” Currently in post-production and to be pitched at Haugesund’s New Nordic Films over Aug. 20-23, “The Garden” is Bragason’s sixth feature and his first one since the 2013 Toronto entry “Metalhead.” “I did [...]

  • Costa Gavras

    Costa-Gavras to Receive San Sebastian Career Achievement Donostia Award

    Costa-Gavras, the Greek-born France-based director of some of the most famed movies of political cinema, from 1969’s “Z” to 1981’s “Missing,” will receive a career achievement Donostia Award at this September’s 67th San Sebastian Film Festival. The filmmaker will collect his prize on Sept. 21 at a ceremony held at San Sebastian’s Victoria Eugenia, where [...]

  • Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage), Leonard (Bill

    China Box Office: New Animations No Match For 'Nezha' Domination

    Chinese animation “Nezha” continued its run as China’s biggest hit of the summer, maintaining its top spot at the box office even 25 days into its run with a weekend gross of $41.2 million. The tally made it this weekend’s fourth highest grossing film worldwide. Meanwhile, two other new animated titles performed unremarkably. The flop of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content