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Top Customer Reviews
The movie is filled with a haunting soundtrack by Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard, including samples of traditional Maori music by Hirini Melbourne. The cinematography beautifully captures the many moods of light and shadow on mountains and sea, as well as stock footage of majestic whales. "Whale Rider" is an uplifting tale of love, loss, and courage, about tradition in the face of change, and believing in yourself.
First of all, the capsule: This is one of the great, great movies of all time. It's much more subtle (and kinder) than Once Were Warriors but perhaps translates a little less immediately for people outside of Polynesia because Niki Caro, herself a Pakeha (British-descended, non-Maori) New Zealander, doesn't feel compelled to explain Maori culture to outsiders. This reflects the increasing familiarity of many New Zealanders of all races and cultural backgrounds with Maori culture and in this respect it is the most mature bicultural film to come out of Aotearoa. However, at the same time, this does make it a bit harder for the poor old foreigners to understand or feel the more nuanced parts of the wairua (spirit) of this movie.
This is a movie that is uplifting, humane and deeply emotional. Anyone who thinks there is a "man-bashing" agenda here must have brought that particular mindset in with them. There are plenty of men who support Pai in the movie: her dad, her uncle, her friend Hemi (in an ungainly, preteen kind of way). Anyway, I digress. This movie rocks, and Niki Caro, the cast, and especially Keisha Castle-Hughes (Pai), Rawiri Paratene (Koro) and Vicky Haughton (Nanny Flowers) deserve huge praise for their wonderful work.
On to the more cultural stuff: First of all, if anyone has said this before then my apologies, but Koro is a modern Maori even if he has some old-fashioned ideas. He lives in the 21st century and is dealing with 21st century issues. This idea that only white people or people who live in cities are modern is something that continues to annoy me intensely.Read more ›
The Maori claim to be descendants of the legendary Paikea who came to New Zealand riding on the back of a whale. This coastal, fishing community has maintained their close spiritual tie with whales for over a thousand years, their mutual destinies forever linked.
When Koro (Pai's grandfather) decides to gather together all the young males of the tribe and teach them the "old ways" in the hopes of finding the next chief Pai tries to join the group but, is rudely dismissed by Koro. In desperation she cries out to the whales, asking for their assistance in her quest for acceptance.
Now it is up to the whales to decide who's to be the "chosen one." A massive herd answers her plea by grounding themselves on the beach. The whole community unite in an attempt to save these sacred giants, seeing their impending deaths as an apocalyptic omen for the Maori people. All their efforts fail and hope is lost until Pai realizes the moment of truth has finally arrived.
What a beautiful, poetic movie. Keisha Castle-Hughes is brilliant as Pai as is the whole cast. It might be a little slow for younger children, but overall a wonderful experience for a family to watch together. Buy this DVD, you'll come away with something new with each viewing.
"Whale Rider" is inspired by the children's novel of the same name by Maori novelist Witi Ihimaera. It was adapted for the screen and expertly directed by New Zealander Niki Caro. This is a very lyrical film that is perfectly paced, so the audience never has a chance to get bored. The characters are all down-to-earth people who are nevertheless not simplistic, and each is sympathetic in his or her own way. The beautiful imagery of the New Zealand coast and the Maori traditions are a pleasure to watch.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved it and saw the movie also. ( in case you wondered, I will read anything that transports my imagination, no matter what the story)Published 5 days ago by Caroline Bertholf
This movie is not for everyone. Some have called it boring. I really love it, I love the cast and learning about the Maori people and their history with whales. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Holly
One of the best movies ever! You should watch this movie. Your kids should watch this movie. Love, love, love!Published 5 months ago by Michi
I love this movie. The story is wonderful. I enjoyed the Maori cultural and gender aspects which are universally relatable.Published 5 months ago by Jayne40