Reflections on motherhood...


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Sailor's movie meanderings: 3 Mile Limit

Today marks the beginning of a new series on this blog: The Sailor's Movie Meanderings.  As you may have gathered, we've had a new addition to our household.  I've dubbed him The Sailor, since he was born in the caul and according to ancient lore, will be forever protected from drowning.

Last week The Sailor suggested it was about time I took him to a movie.  He reasoned that no age is too young to enjoy a film, and I thought it was about time we got out of the house.  Movie theatres here in Wellington have special screenings to which you can take your baby and not have to worry about whether he fusses through the entire film.  I'm going to try and get to at least one film a week until The Sailor's naps are incompatible with movie watching.

Last week we went to The Penthouse to see 3 Mile Limit.  It was actually supposed to be another film, but a technical glitch meant that The Sailor and I, as the only viewers, got to choose something else.

It's lucky we had the friendly projectionist to guide us through the options, as we would have skipped over this one based on the title alone.  I thought it might be another rap artist's drama, like Eminem's 8 Mile.  Surely someone could have come up with a catchier title?  Something that more accurately foreshadowed the content, like Pirate Radio?  Or The Boat That Rocked?  Oh that's right, a movie with both those titles has already been made (they used Pirate Radio for the North American release).  What about Six Months in a Leaky Boat then?  That would have had broader nostalgic Kiwiana appeal.

3 Mile Limit is the New Zealand version of Pirate Radio, based on the true story of Radio Hauraki - New Zealand's first commercial radio station.  One thing I'm always curious about with these "based on a true story" movies is how closely they resemble the truth.  Of course real life is never as exciting as the movies, so I am willing to forgive a bit of creative retelling.  As far as I can tell, this creative retelling has most of the elements of the original story, albeit in slightly different order.

The movie did miss one event however: the time that the Radio Hauraki director ran into my dad's car as he was driving down Wellesley Street.  As narrated by Dad:

It was Wellesley St East, about 9:30 pm....rainy night, I had been studying at the Auckland Uni library and was heading home, David Gates came out of High Street and turned onto Wellesley St in front of me, with brakes applied my 52 Austin went into hydroplaning mode and slid down the street towards Queen St and a telephone box, where, on the left hand corner there was a telephone booth of the old red variety.  Someone was talking on the phone and as I came sliding towards it, I saw her step out of the box while still holding the phone at the length of the cord.  I stopped just short of the box.  She stepped back in and continued the conversation and Gates stopped and came over and asked if everything was ok..He was driving a very flash Jaguar, which in the early 70s in NZ was certainly a money car!  He gave me his details and drove off.  I had no need to contact him.
I guess, in the big scheme of things, such an event didn't change the course of Radio Hauraki's history (nor my dad's), so I can understand why it ended up on the cutting room floor.

Back to the movie, in all its 1960s New Zealand cringe-worthy glory.  In short, this is a feel-good David vs Goliath drama, with a bit of comedy, romance and adventure thrown in for good measure.

  • the David and Goliath bit: it's Radio Hauraki vs the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, which has a stranglehold on NZ radio
  • the comedy: it's 1960s New Zealand for a start - you probably couldn't get a more stodgy era in NZ history - this is personified in the character of Morrie the dorky radio engineer who is the brains behind the operation
  • the romance: the visionary, Richard, and his wife have a cute little romance going on
  • the adventure: there's a leaky boat, multiple storms, and about six crazy guys - all the ingredients you need.

The New Zealand accents were a bit overdone, but the movie captured the stiffness and conformity of NZ society of the 1960s - as well as the exciting undercurrent of rebellion that the Radio Hauraki directors and DJs tapped into.

And most importantly, what did The Sailor think?  Well, he had trouble staying awake.

Rating: *** (worth leaving the house for)

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