Strata - 1983

Phase Three Films - 110 min.

Cast: Nigel Davenport, Judy Morris, Tom Brennan, Ctibor Turba, John Banas, Roy Billing, Peter Nicoll, Mary Regan.
Screenplay: Ester Krumbachova, Geoff Steven, Michael Havas; Photography: Leon Narbey; Editor: David Coulson; Music: Mike Nock; Art Director: Dean Cato; Producer: John Maynard; Director: Geoff Steven.

The story means to develop through an uncovering of layers - strata. As writer Krumbachova stated: "With nature as a prison, an impassable barrier ... where every action is physically and psychically limited by the environment ... people are reduced to fragments of basic instinct and intelligence." Promoted as a psychological thriller, Strata provides little tension nor any real climax. The charactors are ideas - not believably real. Filmed on White Island and in Tongariro National Park, this could have, at least, been a visually interesting film, but even that is lost due to less than ideal photographic quality. The best thing about this film is the original soundtrack.

Censor rating: PG - Review rating: D+

Official MP4 Clip


As of May 2008, no known source for VHS or DVD purchases. PAL VHS copies do exist, therefore used ones might be found, but probably only in New Zealand or Australia.
If you are in New Zealand, you can rent it from Aro Video of Wellington. They will ship to any New Zealand location.

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No known soundtrack CD of this title.

MP3 clip from this title's soundtrack

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The first known NZ feature film to also have its own soundtrack release was the 1977 33rpm LP of Sleeping Dogs. Other titles that are on 33rpm LP and/or audio cassette, but have not yet (as of 2011) found their way to CD are: Solo (1978), Goodbye Pork Pie (1980), Battletruck (1981), Smash Palace (1981), Strata (1984), Bridge to Nowhere (1986), Queen City Rocker (1986) and The Leading Edge (1987).

Details on these rare LPs can be found at the Soundtrack LP page.


Rosemary Hemmings review in Art New Zealand

Reviews at

New Zealand Film Commission Synopsis

Four Word Film Review

Eleanor Mannikka, All Movie Guide Review

"Strata is one hell of an experimental film - a brave attempt by Geoff Steven and John Maynard to lock into an audience's dreamsense [...] Steven has nicely retained the open camera documentary style of his earlier Skin Deep but he's broken new ground by using eight central characters [...] The problem, I believe, and there is a problem, lies in Geoff Steven's decision not to engage audience sympathy through creating subjective states of mind for the characters" - (Martin Blythe, "Geoff Steven's 'Strata'", Alternative Cinema, Winter/Spring, 1983)

... 8 characters neatly pinned like museum exhibits to the 2D surface of the landscape .... Steven has gone for an Art House movie ... I defend Geoff Steven for making such a film even if it drives audiences wild - Martin Blythe, Alternative Cinema, Winter/Spring 1983.


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Information at IMDB

New Zealand Film Archive Info

Internet Movie Poster Awards

"This film interweaves two narratives: one featuring the interactions between a celebrated vulcanologist and the journalist and photographer who are collaborating on a book about him; the other oncerned with a group of five passengers from an international flight interned after a cholera outbreak, who escape from the sterile institution in which they are being detained and try to make their way back to civilisation across the remote volcanic plateau of New Zealand's North Island. In the tradition of the 'cinema of alienation' associated with the great Italian Modernist Michelangelo Antonioni, Strata abounds with images of characters wandering aimlessly around empty, lunar-like landscapes. This envirnonment presented [Leon] Narbey with the challenge of 'making the frame as interesting as possible when you don't have any mad-made elements there to give you a compositional reference'. Nevertheless, he created exquisite compsitions of empty vistas and tracts of black volcanic desert and rock, which dominated the figures in the landscape, and were rendered via lingering long shots that further emphasise the monotonous emptiness of time and space." - from Duncan Petrie's 2007 book, 'Shot in New Zealand'

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