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4.6 out of 5 stars93
4.6 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 27 January 2004
I saw this in the cinema last year and was I have to say I was dreading it. I thought it was going to be a load of girl-power-whale-loving-I-can-do-anything.
How wrong was I?
This is a beautiful movie, simply put. The story is uplifting, moving and beautifully told; the scenery is stunning; and it gave this Irishman an insight into an unfamiliar and rich ancient culture. Buy it, rent it but for heaven's sake WATCH IT!
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on 28 September 2009
A simple but multi-layered film that doesn't make judgements or seek easy answers. Ravishing visual scenery and impressive acting - especially by Keisha the young female lead. Poetic, emotional but not a rom-com or a chick-flick by any means. The humour and New Zealand culture (think of the All Blacks rugby chant) make it appealing to a wide audience. This one's a keeper.
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on 16 February 2004
Whale rider has received a lot more media attention since Keisha-castle Hughes was nominated for an oscar as best actress for her role in this film. It's a shame that the media didn't pick up on this little gem before! It tells the story of Pai, a young Maori girl, who fights prejudice on different levels to take her rightful place in her community. Firstly, for having been born a girl, and secondly, for having survived when her twin brother dies at birth.the film is set ( and filmed) in the village where Pikea, the first whale rider, arrived many generations ago.It explores the difficult relationships between Koro, the chief, and his own son (Pai's father). It shows the difficulties facing a modern Maori community, yet there is a wonderful humour and energy, due to the fact that only the leading characters are actually professional actors, all the small parts being played by actual villagers.For 97 minutes the viewer is literally part of the community.Young Keisha, who pays Pai, is absolutely amazing and deserves that Oscar- the dvd contains bonus clips from her audition, well worth watching, as well as an interesting "making of"and also a documentary on the te waka, Maori longboats. In short,a touching, uplifting film for the family.
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on 15 February 2005
This is another classic New Zealand film with amazing performances from all the cast. I dropped lucky with this movie, I got it for a pound would you believe! Blockbusters was selling ex-rental copies to raise money for an appeal and I happened to be in the shop that day, lucky or what?
The plot is not complex, the Whangara people have long believed their presence in New Zealand dates a millennium, what is more they can trace their origins to a single ancestor who was lucky enough to escape death when his canoe capsized in the ocean and he rode to shore on the back of a whale.
From that time on the Whangara chiefs, have been considered this man's direct descendants as their natural born tribal leader.
Jump forward to the 21st century and we meet Pai played by the understated Keisha Castle-Hughes, an 11-year-old girl who comes to believe she is destined to be the new chief.
However Pai's grouchy and somewhat bitter grandfather Koro, (Pai's male twin died at birth) played fantastically by Rawiri Paratene is bound by tradition to pick a male leader and he cannot see that Pai is in fact the next true leader of their tribe and it is his stubbornness and anger that just might lead to a terrible tragedy if he does not open his eyes before it is too late...
This is one of the best films to come out of the 21st century; the scenery is breath taking, the acting first class and the sound-track spot on. What more can you ask for?
One of the most wonderful scenes for me is when Pai takes to the sea on the back of whale, at that moment she knows she cannot change her Grandfather's mind so she gives herself to nature and rides on the back of a whale, letting it take her down into the depth of an ancient ocean.
A truly awesome film that that is worth watching over and over again just for that scene alone.
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There are many reviews already, so I'll try and tell you my take without telling you the story: this film opens the door to Maori culture. It has a proper narrative arc AND character development. It is beautifully acted, and even for a thick-skinned cynic like me, will bring you to tears -- of joy and sadness. There are mythical elements neatly interwoven with social commentary and not one bum note or clunky intersection to be seen.

I cannot explain well enough just how wonderful this film is. I made my 7 year old daughter watch it, and she was moved also. The film works on many levels.

I recommend this film without reservation.
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on 9 May 2010
This is such a moving and emotionally full film. The little girl playing the major part is stunning and so talented. Although she got an Oscar for her role I find it hard to understand why this seems such an under rated film.

I will watch it again and again as it is both inspirational and thought provoking, to see how people get disappointed and then continue to reinforce their disappointment at every turn of events.
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on 9 June 2012
A feel good movie. That description alone would not do it justice. It is a Maori story but with universal themes. The young must be taught the old ways but by our rules. The young always want to take risks, cut corners and have fun. It is also about death, the natural order of the dying of the light. The erosion of communities that disintegrate under the pace of 'change'-and the loss of things which will never be so again. But will the challenge put down be picked up and what will it look like for the next generation? I much preferred Ngati- a rougher, low cost production and set in an older time-well a time when New Zealand appeared to stand still but more in keeping with the story of my own community. The loss of industry, the shafting of workers for no better purpose than greed by those so far away from the damage they caused it was an obscenity. But whale rider-is uplifting. The cinematography is superb; the acting pretty damn good. The humour-a blessing and in plentiful supply. It has taken awhile for something Maori mainstream to come close to this but the recent 'Matariki' does. Good companions.
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on 9 December 2005
This is a beautiful moving film. Its incedibly acted by the young girl and has an incredible soundtrack and cinematography. At this price it should not be missed!!
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on 10 December 2003
If you liked Shawshank Redemption you'll love this. A beautiful movie with amazing scenery. Filmed in NZ about a young maori girl (native nzers) and the relationship with her family and community. A must see. Has won numerous awards, will make you laugh and cry.
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on 30 January 2016
This is an interesting drama about Maori traditions and one girl's (Pai) determination to become the next chief despite being against their culture. It explains the Maori beliefs in an interesting way which would be more appreciated by 12 years to adults. There is plenty of drama but it is uplifting in some places, moving in others. However, some scenes may upset young children. Everyone plays their part in an excellent and believable way. The girl who plays Pai is in my opinion the best though as she is absolutely believable in all her varied situations. Whale Rider can be enjoyed by adults, like myself, or with older children as well. Some of it may upset young children. It is a very interesting way to introduce a different culture.
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