New Zealand has become a huge player in international film with settings for the Lord of the Rings films, and Avatar. The natural scenery is spectacular in Whale Rider and set in a Maori village of the indigenous people in New Zealand today. The cultures of tradition and modern are clashing as the young people are more interested in modernity than in history.
The film is an adaptation of a novel about a 12 year old Maori girl, Paikea, who wants to be chief of her tribe. Her grandfather, Koro, is the current chief and his sons have no interests or aptitude for the job. He will not consider Paikea because she is a girl in this patriarchal culture.
The story in some ways is predictable but also surprising in the conclusion. It is a coming of age film about a neglected child finding confidence and doing her best with what she has been given. The emotion is real for actors and audience and is clearly the universal situations of love, rejection and triumph.
‘Whale Rider’ is about “courage in face of enemies, communal stories through dance, traits that mark a ‘dreamer’, and spirituality of a ancient people for ancestors and nature. ”
‘Whale Rider’ is one of the films you will never forget. I took my granddaughter and who is 12 and she loved it. The date of release was 2002, and available on Netflix.
This Is ‘Whale Rider’, the Film.