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Geoff Murphy

Geoff Murphy
Born Geoffrey Peter Murphy
(1938-10-13) 13 October 1938
New Zealand
Occupation Film director, film producer, screenwriter,
Years active 1977 – present

Geoffrey Peter Murphy ONZM (born 13 October 1938) is a New Zealand filmmaker, as a producer, director and screenwriter best known for his work during the renaissance of New Zealand cinema that began in the last half of the 1970s. His second feature Goodbye Pork Pie (1981) was the first New Zealand movie to win major commercial success on its own soil.

Murphy directed a string of Hollywood features during the 1990s, before returning to New Zealand as second unit director on The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. The versatile Murphy has also been a scriptwriter, special effects technician, schoolteacher and trumpet player.


  • Early life 1
  • Blerta 2
  • Early films 3
  • Hollywood 4
  • Return to New Zealand 5
  • Filmography 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Murphy grew up in the Wellington suburb of Highbury, and attended St. Vincent de Paul School in Kelburn and St. Patrick's College, Wellington, before training and working as a schoolteacher.[1]


Murphy was a founding member of legendary 'hippy' musical and theatrical co-operative Blerta, which toured New Zealand and Australia performing multi-media shows in the early 1970s. Blerta were later given the opportunity to make their own television series, which in turn spawned what is arguably Murphy's first feature film, the 75 minute long Wild Man. A number of Blerta members would work on Murphy's films - including drummer and Blerta founder Bruno Lawrence, who had starring roles in Utu and The Quiet Earth.

Early films

Murphy made his name with road movie Goodbye Pork Pie (1981), the first New Zealand film to attract large-scale audiences in its home country. Made on a low budget, the film followed three people travelling from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island, to growing infamy along the way.

Murphy confirmed his versatility and ability to attract mainstream audiences with the two films that followed: Māori western Utu (1983) and the last man on earth piece The Quiet Earth (1985).[2] Utu won rave reviews from Variety and critic Pauline Kael, while The Quiet Earth was described as "the best science-fiction film of the 80s" by the New York Daily News. The latter film became a cult hit in the United States.

Murphy became renowned for his abilities with action, knockabout comedy, and fusing genres.


By the 1990s Murphy had begun a decade working outside of New Zealand, mostly in the United States. In this period he directed movies such as Young Guns II, Freejack which featured Emilio Estevez and Mick Jagger, and Steven Seagal sequel Under Siege 2: Dark Territory. The latter proved his most successful film at the international box-office, grossing more than US$100 million worldwide. However, none of these films were well received by critics overall.

Return to New Zealand

Murphy returned to New Zealand and assisted Peter Jackson on the The Lord of the Rings films; made a documentary film chronicling the Blerta phenomenon; and directed critically panned thriller Spooked, featuring Cliff Curtis. More recently, he directed the New Zealand television comedy series Welcome to Paradise,[3] worked on the remastered DVD release of Goodbye Pork Pie and was 2nd unit director on another Hollywood movie.

In 2013 Murphy was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 Rialto Channel New Zealand Film Awards.[4] The same year saw the release of a restored and reedited and version of possibly his most ambitious film, Utu, under the title Utu Redux.

Murphy was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2014 New Year Honours.[5][6] In the same year, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in literature by Massey University.[7]



  1. ^ "'"Honorary doc for NZ cinema's 'rascal of the realm.  
  2. ^ "Geoff Murphy Filmography".  
  3. ^ "Welcome to Paradise".  
  4. ^ "THE 2013 WINNERS OF THE RIALTO CHANNEL NEW ZEALAND FILM AWARDS". NZ Film Awards. NZ Film Awards. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "New Year Honours List 2014". 
  6. ^ "Investitures at Government House Wellington March 2014". 
  7. ^ Fletcher, Kelsey (15 May 2014). "Trailblazing director honoured Screen scholar".  
  8. ^ "Uenuku - Television".  
  9. ^ "Tales of Mystery and Imagination - Film".  

External links

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