Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Whale Rider

posted by rkumar
A
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Profanity:Brief strong language
Nudity/Sex:Mild sexual references, including out of wedlock pregnancy
Alcohol/Drugs:Brief drug reference
Violence/Scariness:Training in traditional fight techniques
Diversity Issues:A theme of the movie
Movie Release Date:2003

This lovely, lyrical fable of a movie is set in the Maori community of New Zealand. According to legend, the Maori came to Whangara when their great leader Paikea led them by riding on a whale.

Ever since, the Maori have been led by the descendants of that leader. The movie begins with the birth of twins, the latest in that line. But the boy twin and his mother die. Over the objection of the current leader, Koro (Rawiri Paratene), the girl twin is named Paikaea. Her heartbroken father leaves New Zealand, and Pai is left to be raised by her grandparents.

Koro loves Pai deeply, but he is still bitter about not having a male heir. When she is 12 (an exquisite performance by Keisha Castle-Hughes), Koro assembles the local boys to begin to train them in the traditions of their culture and test them to see which has the courage, skill, wisdom, and leadership. It is clear to her grandmother (Vicki Houghton), to us, and to Pai herself that she has all of those qualities, but Koro, struggling fiercely to maintain the Maori pride and identity against the assaults of the modern world, cannot allow himself to consider such a change.

Writer-director Niki Coro perfectly suits the style to the story. The modest buildings in the midst of the starkly beautiful setting conveys the contrast between the timeless culture of the Maori and the ephemeral artifacts of the modern age. Pai’s perceptiveness and quiet persistence are always evident, but when she finally speaks from her heart, standing on stage in a school production, wearing traditional garb, she is purely luminous. The movie is not just genuinely lyrical, but, even harder to manage, it is lyrically genuine.

Parents should know that the movie has some tense family confrontations. The death of a mother and baby in childbirth is very sad. A character is injured, but ultimately recovers. There is brief strong language. Characters drink and smoke and there is a and a brief drug reference. A character refers to an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. The movie presents a minority culture with great dignity and respect, and the theme of equality is exceptionally well handled.

Families who see this movie should talk about the traditions of their own cultures. How do we decide which traditions to hold on to and which to change to adapt to changing times?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “The Secret of Roan Inish,” “Into the West,” and “Island of the Blue Dolphins.” They should also find out more about the Maori culture. This site is a good place to start and this one has information about Maori carvings.



Previous Posts

The Woman in Gold
The very title is a form of theft. When Gustav Klimt painted the portrait that gives this film its name, he called it "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer." She was a warm, vibrant young woman

posted 5:58:01pm Mar. 31, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: The Woman in Gold's Simon Curtis and E. Randol Schoenberg
Director Simon Curtis told me, "My last film was My Week with Marilyn, and this one is my century with Maria."  He is referring to "The Woman in Gold," with Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann, who brought a lawsuit to get back the portrait of her aunt Adele, painted by Gustav Klimt, which had been stole

posted 3:37:47pm Mar. 31, 2015 | read full post »

Faith-Based Movie Picks -- The Today Show
In honor of Easter and Passover, the Today Show has some good suggestions for faith-based movies, from the very serious and respectful to the light-hearted.

posted 3:13:29pm Mar. 31, 2015 | read full post »

Another "Star is Born" Movie? Possibly, with Bradley Cooper as Director and Beyonce to Star!
A movie that's already been done three times (at least) may just get yet another remake if the rumors are true that Bradley Cooper will direct and Beyoncé will appear in "A Star is Born."  The original 1937 version, said to be inspired by (among others) the marriage of aging vaudeville star Al Jol

posted 3:54:02pm Mar. 30, 2015 | read full post »

Exclusive Clip and Contest: What Would Jesus Do -- The Journey Continues
We are honored to present an exclusive clip from "WWJD (What Would Jesus Do): The Journey Continues," inspired by the best-selling classic book In His Steps. WWJD: The Journey Continues is availab

posted 3:40:29pm Mar. 30, 2015 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.