WHALE RIDER

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Quality
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Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: June 06, 2003

Starring: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri
Paratene, Vicky Haughton, and
Cliff Curtis

Genre: Drama

Audience: Teenagers and adults REVIEWER:
Dr. Tom Snyder WHALE RIDER is
a sweet-natured drama about a
young girl trying to find her
place within a patriarchal
Maori tribe in New Zealand.
The movie contains, however,
an acceptance of pagan
beliefs, including ancestor
worship, in its story, which
also takes a syncretistic
approach that provides a
multicultural, feminist,
politically-correct spin. The
movie opens with a modern-day
crisis in a Maori tribe, the
Ngati Konohi, in a small
coastal village in New
Zealand. The hereditary
first-born male child dies at
birth with its mother, but is
survived by his twin sister.
In defiance of the tribal
patriarch, the son of the
patriarch and the father of
the twins, names the girl
after Paikea, the tribe's
venerated ancestor whom they
believe arrived in New Zealand
a thousand years ago on the
back of a whale after his
canoe capsized. Tradition
states that the name should
only be given to a first-born
male child, so the father's
actions anger the grandfather,
Koro, the current chief of the
tribe. The fiercely
traditional grandfather
immediately shortens the
girl's name to "Pai"
(pronounced Pie). Pai's
grieving father leaves her in
the care of Koro and his
mother, Nanny, while he seeks
a different destiny abroad.
Twelve years later, Pai senses
that her grandfather, Koro,
cares about her, though Koro's
caring is distanced by his
grief and disappointment that
there is no male family heir
to become chief. Pai is
strengthened by the
unconditional love of her wise
grandmother. She is determined
to change Koro's anger and
regret. This becomes nearly
impossible when Pai secretly
tries to learn the male
traditions while Koro trains
the first-born boys of the
village, hoping to find a
worthy successor to his reign
as chief. When Koro finds out
about Pai's indiscretion, it
puts even further strain on
their relationship. Only a
miracle can heal the situation
and help Pai fulfill her
destiny. Keisha Castle-Hughes
and Rawiri Paratene do a
superb job of delineating the
characters of Pai and her
stubborn grandfather, Koro,
respectively, and their
troubled relationship. Vicky
Houghton also does a marvelous
job as the grandmother, who
tries to mediate between her
husband and her granddaughter.
The writing and direction by
Niki Coro, who's of European
descent, is sometimes a bit on
the slow side, however. The
focus of WHALE RIDER is, of
course, on Pai's relationship
with her stubborn grandfather,
Koro. Pai's very existence
challenges Koro's masculine
understanding of the way
things are supposed to be. Pai
is not coming from a radical
feminist point of view,
however. She just wants to
fulfill her destiny as part of
the pagan traditions of her
people. Thus, the primary goal
of WHALE RIDER is not to use
left-wing radical politics to
completely attack and
transform the traditions of a
particular society, but to
bend those traditions to
accommodate a few modern
sensibilities. The movie
implies, however, that the
ancestors, the mystical
whales, or a divine being has
chosen Pai to carry on the
tribe's traditions. Thus, the
end result is to affirm false
pagan ideas, even though a
minor character says at an
important point near the end
that she will pray to God for
a positive miracle to occur,
and the miracle actually seems
to occur. Thus, Pai has a
mystical relationship with the
whales swimming off the shore.
Her relationship with the
whales plays an important role
in the resolution of the
conflict with her
grandfather. Still, WHALE
RIDER provides a unique look
into a society that only a few
people know anything about.
That, and the positive
pro-family themes in the
movie, may also furnish some
insights for Christians who
have a heart for leading the
Maori and other tribes of
Polynesian descent to Jesus
Christ, who is the Way, the
Truth and the Life (John 14:
17). Please address your
comments to: President Bob
Berney Newmarket Films 597
Fifth Avenue, 7th Floor New
York, NY 10017 Phone: (212)
303-1700 Fax: (212)
421-1163 Website:
www.newmarketfilms.com Email:
info@newmarketfilms.com

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 105 minutes

Distributor: Newmarket Films

Director: Niki Caro

Executive Producer:

Producer: Tim Sanders, John Barnett, and
Frank Hubner EXECUTIVE
PRODUCERS: Bill Gavin and
Linda Goldstein Knowlton

Writer: Niki Caro BASED ON THE NOVEL
BY: Witi Ihimaera

Address Comments To:

Content:

(PaPaPa, Fe, PC, C, B, L, V, N, A, D, M) Syncretistic pagan worldview with some feminist and politically correct elements, redemptive metaphors in a prayer to God, and some moral/biblical elements such as family values and one reference regarding a prayer to God, which is answered miraculously; eight obscenities; some violence such as mock fighting with sticks and character rides whale but nearly drowns; no sex; upper male nudity and girl sits in bathtub, but nothing shown; brief alcohol use; smoking; and, grandfather rejects granddaughter and hands out unjust punishments, granddaughter disobeys, and father abandons daughter.

GENRE: Drama

PaPaPa

Fe

PC

C

B

L

V

N

A

D

M

Summary:

WHALE RIDER is a sweet-natured, but problematic, movie about a young girl trying to find her place within a patriarchal Maori tribe in contemporary New Zealand. WHALE RIDER contains excellent performances, pro-family themes, and a prayer to God at one point that is answered, but it ultimately affirms pagan mysticism.

Review:

WHALE RIDER is a sweet-natured drama about a young girl trying to find her place within a patriarchal Maori tribe in New Zealand. The movie contains, however, an acceptance of pagan beliefs, including ancestor worship, in its story, which also takes a syncretistic approach that provides a multicultural, feminist, politically-correct spin.

The movie opens with a modern-day crisis in a Maori tribe, the Ngati Konohi, in a small coastal village in New Zealand. The hereditary first-born male child dies at birth with its mother, but is survived by his twin sister. In defiance of the tribal patriarch, the son of the patriarch and the father of the twins, names the girl after Paikea, the tribe's venerated ancestor whom they believe arrived in New Zealand a thousand years ago on the back of a whale after his canoe capsized. Tradition states that the name should only be given to a first-born male child, so the father's actions anger the grandfather, Koro, the current chief of the tribe. The fiercely traditional grandfather immediately shortens the girl's name to "Pai" (pronounced Pie).

Pai's grieving father leaves her in the care of Koro and his mother, Nanny, while he seeks a different destiny abroad. Twelve years later, Pai senses that her grandfather, Koro, cares about her, though Koro's caring is distanced by his grief and disappointment that there is no male family heir to become chief. Pai is strengthened by the unconditional love of her wise grandmother. She is determined to change Koro's anger and regret. This becomes nearly impossible when Pai secretly tries to learn the male traditions while Koro trains the first-born boys of the village, hoping to find a worthy successor to his reign as chief. When Koro finds out about Pai's indiscretion, it puts even further strain on their relationship. Only a miracle can heal the situation and help Pai fulfill her destiny.

Keisha Castle-Hughes and Rawiri Paratene do a superb job of delineating the characters of Pai and her stubborn grandfather, Koro, respectively, and their troubled relationship. Vicky Houghton also does a marvelous job as the grandmother, who tries to mediate between her husband and her granddaughter. The writing and direction by Niki Coro, who's of European descent, is sometimes a bit on the slow side, however.

The focus of WHALE RIDER is, of course, on Pai's relationship with her stubborn grandfather, Koro. Pai's very existence challenges Koro's masculine understanding of the way things are supposed to be. Pai is not coming from a radical feminist point of view, however. She just wants to fulfill her destiny as part of the pagan traditions of her people. Thus, the primary goal of WHALE RIDER is not to use left-wing radical politics to completely attack and transform the traditions of a particular society, but to bend those traditions to accommodate a few modern sensibilities.

The movie implies, however, that the ancestors, the mystical whales, or a divine being has chosen Pai to carry on the tribe's traditions. Thus, the end result is to affirm false pagan ideas, even though a minor character says at an important point near the end that she will pray to God for a positive miracle to occur, and the miracle actually seems to occur. Thus, Pai has a mystical relationship with the whales swimming off the shore. Her relationship with the whales plays an important role in the resolution of the conflict with her grandfather.

Still, WHALE RIDER provides a unique look into a society that only a few people know anything about. That, and the positive pro-family themes in the movie, may also furnish some insights for Christians who have a heart for leading the Maori and other tribes of Polynesian descent to Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14: 17).

Please address your comments to:

President Bob Berney

Newmarket Films

597 Fifth Avenue, 7th Floor

New York, NY 10017

Phone: (212) 303-1700

Fax: (212) 421-1163

Website: www.newmarketfilms.com

In Brief: