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MORRISON TEMUERA: What Becomes of the Broken Hearted

The mild mannered actor Temuera Morrison is back as the tough-titted, troubled Maori husband and father, Jake, in the unique sequel to Once Were Warriors: What Becomes of the Broken Hearted – a search for redemption. ANDREW L. URBAN reports.

"This is definitely not Once Were Warriors 2," says director Ian Mune, who helped writer Alan Duff adapt Duff’s 1997 Montana Fiction Award winning novel. "I’m sure there’ll be inevitable comparisons, but it’s a unique story of its own."

"a sequel"

The film is nevertheless a sequel in that we pick up the characters where Once Were Warriors left them. What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? again stars Temuera Morrison in the role of Jake Heke and his wife Beth is again played by Rena Owen; she has left him, and he has now turned his back on his family.

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? is the story of Jake’s search for redemption, which begins when his son Sonny (played by Clint Eruera) becomes embroiled in a gang war. He finds a new woman, Rita (Edna Stirling) but his fury and fighting don’t stop until finally his rage is turned around to shatter his own being as he begins to realise he has to change.

Sonny is the new name for the Abe character in the book, changed to avoid confusion with the character of Ape; and an important new character is Tania, a tough gang moll, played by Nancy Brunning.

"He knows these characters absolutely"

"Alan Duff is the source not just of Jake but of all the characters and the world which they live in," says Ian Mune.

"He knows these characters absolutely, which made my job that much easier.

"However one of the elements I was mot involved in was ensuring this was a stand-alone project. It does take the world and some of the characters from Once Were Warriors, but that sets up the first building block and from then it’s a totally different story."

Duff agrees: "People will quickly see it’s a story that exists in its own right. I think they’ll find it more complex and in many cases more subtle."

He adds: "From the beginning I was determined to see Temuera Morrison return as Jake. I’ve always been a big fan and believe he is one of this country’s (New Zealand) genuine stars. I also thought it was important that the country, indeed the world, see this character grow up."

"He is the heart and soul of the film" Ian Mune

Ian Mune comments: "Tem totally embodies the spirit of Jake. He is the heart and soul of the film."

"I never expected to get back into Jake’s shoes," says Temuera Morrison, who won New Zealand’s Best Actor Award for the original role. "But no matter how good a performance an actor gives, he is never completely satisfied. So I was delighted to have an opportunity to revisit the role.

"I want this film to linger with the audience for a while. I want all the Jake Hekes to take a while and think about their lives, to discover – like Jake – that they have to take on some responsibility and start changing their ways."

Once Were Warriors was directed by Lee Tamahori, an experienced tv commercials director with a structured approach. Morrison noticed the shift in style with Mune, whose background is predominantly in theatre and radio, "King Lear and that," says Morrison. Although it should be noted that Mune, who was awarded an OBE for his services to film and theatre in 1991, has won numerous film and television awards, including two for Best Director.

"Very different styles," says Morrison, "Ian prefers to work on the performances side and lets others handle the technical aspects. He focuses on the actors.   Lee is structured and has precise ideas, wheras Ian has a look and considers things…he’s less structured, and he’ll play with a scene a bit more."

"a very internal journey"

Shot in seven weeks, a week longer than Once Were Warriors, but still tight, remarks Morrison, What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? is a very internal journey for Jake, which made it "tough for Ian," says the actor.

But Morrison felt more confident this time, and he was glad to have Mune the actor behind him. "He gives you more levels to work on."

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