The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey Review

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Connor returns to his village in 14th century Cumbria, telling awful tales of the Black Death that is sweeping the country. The locals all fear it will arrive imminently, so when Connor's visionary younger brother Griffin's dreams tell him the village must dig to a nearby church, the locals all listen and they start digging, but soon they arrive in 20th Century New Zealand.


With Chaucerian characterisations, a clear-eyed mysticism straight from the 14th Century and the look of an illuminated manuscript or a stained-glass window, this is effectively a medieval movie. The Black Death creeps towards a Cumbrian mining village in 1348 and a young visionary (McFarlane) dreams that disaster can be averted if a party of the menfolk tunnel through to the other side of the world and put up a crucifix on a cathedral in God's City. In what may be a dream, the medieval party dig their way to 1980s New Zealand, where demonic traffic bars their way, and find a going-out-of-business foundry willing to forge their cross.

Ward's wonderful second feature is a mystical time travel opus that refuses to play the genre tricks, and makes modern times as surreal and nightmarish as the monochrome Middle Ages.