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Whale Rider [DVD]
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A young mother dies in childbirth along with her newborn male son, who was supposed to be the Whangara tribe's next leader. His twin sister, Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes), manages to survive and is brought up by her grandparents. She enlists the help of her uncle to teach herself the art of chiefdom and it appears that she possesses a natural leadership ability.
One of the most charming and critically acclaimed films of 2003, the New Zealand hit Whale Rider effectively combines Maori tribal tradition with the timely "girl power" of a vibrant new millennium. Despite the discouragement of her gruff and disapproving grandfather (Rawiri Paratene), who nearly disowns her because she is female and therefore traditionally disqualified from tribal leadership, 12-year-old Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes) is convinced that she is a tribal leader and sets out to prove it.
Rather than inflate this story (from a novel by Witi Ihimaera) with artificial sentiment, writer-director Niki Caro develops very real and turbulent family relationships, intimate and yet torn by a collision between stubborn tradition and changing attitudes. The mythic whale rider--the ultimate symbol of Maori connection to nature--is also the harbinger of Pai's destiny, and the appealing Castle-Hughes gives a luminous, astonishingly powerful performance that won't leave a dry eye in the house. With its fresh take on a familiar tale, Whale Rider is definitely one from the heart. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is one of those movies that draws you into its world completely with its honesty. The 12-year old star, Keisha Castle-Hughes is so genuine and charismatic, it is no wonder she has been nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. She is a natural talent, beautiful, inspiring, and delightful to watch.
Whale Rider has the art-house feel to it, because it deals almost exclusively with emotions. Village life and underwater scenes of whales are lovingly photographed and accompanied by a haunting score. There is a lot of Maori culture in it, but the desire for acceptance and respect are universally understood. If you like character-driven stories with heartwarming elements of the supernatural, you'll enjoy Whale Rider.
Breathtakingly emotional, beautifully heartbreaking and wonderfully funny, this outstanding film deserves much more recognition than the lone best actress Oscar nomination for Keisha Castle-Hughes. This brilliant young girl should have received the award for the speech scene alone.
Simply an excellent story by Witi Ihimaera, adapted perfectly for the screen by Niki Caro, casted with genius by Diana Rowan, acted magnificently by all the actors, completed with a hauntingly stunning score by Lisa Gerrard.
Every now and then a film comes along that makes the world a better place to live in. Whale Rider does this. Watch it now.
The film is set on the eastern coast of New Zealand, which is inhabited by an ancient people, the Whangara. The narrator is a wonderfully expressive young actress, Keisha Castle-Hughes. She gives a riveting performance as Paikea, (called Pai), a twelve year-old Maori girl with the blood of royalty in her veins and the heart of a warrior in her chest. The movie opens with Pai narrating a Whangara myth. Legend has it that the native people came to New Zealand following their leader, Paikea, (who Pai is named for), a boy who heroically rode on the back of a whale. Traditionally, tribal leadership has always gone to the direct descendants of that first leader and always to the first born male of the noble line. Tragedy occurs, however, when fraternal twins are born into that line, a boy and a girl. The girl lives, the boy does not, and the mother perishes along with her son as a result of a difficult birthing. The chain of leadership is broken with their demise. Pai's father, an artist, can not come to grips with the deaths of his wife and son and so he leaves New Zealand, and Pai, who is cared for by her paternal grandparents.Read more ›
What I found was one of the most extraordinary films in recent memory, and remembered as such. Full of haunting imagery, magical realism, thought-provoking themes and family conflict, this is a movie that Hollywood can only dream of making. It's unique and compelling, and beautiful to boot.
When Paikea (Keisha Castle-Hughes) was born, her mother and twin brother died. Her heartbroken father fled to Europe, leaving her in the care of her rigidly traditional grandfather Koro (Rawiri Paratene). Years later, Pai longs for her grandfather's approval, but he secretly blames her for the troubles plaguing the Maori -- especially since there is now no heir, as girls can't lead. Koro wants a savior for the tribe. Now Koro begins training young boys in how to be chiefs, and Pai secretly learns as well.
When the final test of the boys fails completely, the heartbroken Koro calls out to the Ancient Ones (whales), one of which, according to legend, brought the first person to New Zealand. But they don't come for the old chief. Pai calls them as well -- only to bring disaster when the whales beach themselves near her home. To save the Ancient Ones, an old teacher must learn to break traditions, and a young one learns her true place.
Though the lead of this movie is a child, there is no cuteness, no dumbness, no talking-down. The moviemakers clearly respect the cast, the people it represents, and the wealth of legend and myth behind them. It feels so real that you could reach through and touch them. But the content in it is universal -- sometimes traditions should bow to what is needed, and they need to change for the people who honor them to survive.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just thinking about this film makes me want to go and watch it right now. It has been too long! This beautiful film is about New Zealand, heritage, culture, family, spirituality... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Sarah
This is a truly wonderful movie, and especially so for girls. Very inspirational. I think all young girls should watch this film as it illustrates the importance of following our... Read morePublished 2 months ago by S.K.
Always loved the movie and the story it tells. Amazing scenery and music.Published 3 months ago by Laura
I first saw this on a trip around New Zealand a few weeks ago, but found it hard to watch while looking at the scenery as well. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Gordon Lawrence
Great film. Can't believe it has taken me so long to discover this little gem.Published 5 months ago by F. Hornby
Beautiful Film superbly acted starred by non so famous movie starts.Published 6 months ago by Ana R.