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Is The Stolen a True Story?

May 31, 2020
4 min read

‘The Stolen’ is a Western movie with a strong female lead. However, unlike most Western movies, ‘The Stolen’ is not set in the American Frontier. Rather, it is set in New Zealand in the 19th century: a place which proves to be equally lawless and trigger-happy. The movie is directed by Niall Johnson and stars Alice Eve in the leading role.

The film follows the character of Charlotte Lockton, an English woman who shifts to New Zealand in the 19th century after her marriage. However, her husband gets killed by their workers. They also kidnap her son and leave the property. After a long time, Charlotte gets a ransom letter demanding some money. She manages to track the letter to a town named Goldtown. Then, she goes on a perilous journey to rescue her son. Will she be able to survive the risky journey which is too dangerous for a woman in a man’s world? Even if she reaches Goldtown safely, how will she confront her son’s kidnappers and rescue her son safely?

Is The Stolen Based on a True Story?

‘The Stolen’ is not based on a true story. The plot of the movie is completely fictional and has not been inspired by an actual event or another story from another medium. The movie has been written by Niall Johnson and Emily Corcoran.

However, the setting of the film has been inspired by actual historical facts. New Zealand of the 19th century is actually depicted quite authentically and that is because it is based on historically accurate research. New Zealand in the 19th century was, in fact, a pretty lawless place. At the start of the century, it was largely dominated by Maori tribes, but soon European colonization became a major social force. “From the 1840s through to the 1860s the political and economic aspirations of the settler population quickly overrode those of Māori. The rapid growth of the settler population saw greater demands for political power and more land for settlement…The migration to New Zealand of tens of thousands of settlers in the 19th century had a significant impact on their lives and those of Māori. In the period from 1870 to 1900 the physical, economic and social landscape was transformed as towns and cities developed.” (source).

In the movie, Matai is a pivotal Māori character whose family gets killed. Moreover, Charlotte, the movie’s protagonist, is one of the many Europeans who migrate to New Zealand. Her husband is the one who takes the decision, with aspirations of his own.

Apart from that, another historically accurate depiction of the setting in ‘The Stolen’ is the apparent gold rush. While the town of Goldtown is fictional, it is used to depict how the country’s economic landscape changed drastically after gold was discovered. “Thousands of young men rushed to New Zealand hoping to make their fortune as they followed the gold from Otago to the West Coast and later to Thames in the North Island. Few struck it rich on the goldfields, but the collective value of the gold that was discovered kick-started the economy. A young, mobile and male-dominated population was typical of many frontier societies. Provincial and central governments believed that the country’s future growth and progress required the order and stability offered by family life. Various schemes were developed to attract women migrants and families to New Zealand in a bid to help society mature” (source).

As evidenced by the quote above, ‘The Stolen’ represents the male-dominated society of New Zealand in that period well. The movie also depicts how in-country migration was common due to the discovery of gold.

Read More: Where Was The Stolen Filmed?

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