Whale Rider

Angelina Udalova

Studentka Instytutu Filologii Angielskiej Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego
(pod kierunkiem dr Justyny Deszcz-Tryhubczak)

Beautiful in its childlike innocence and immediacy, old New Zealand’s Maori legend was recreated in Niki Caro’s film „The Whale Rider”. This profoundly psychological movie tells us the story of a girl who happens to be the only remaining successor of the Maori tribe leader. The young Paikea (Keisha Castle-Hughes) has to prove to everyone, and especially to her inflexible grandfather, that she can break from the old tribal tradition and become more than a decent leader. The film can be analyzed from a broad variety of perspectives. The director successfully presents themes of relationships between adults and children, problems of different generations, and gender-inflected attitudes to children, as well as the matters of ethnicity and cultural values. Caro shows great directing skills, presenting all these completely different themes in one extraordinary movie. The movie, awakening and soulful, can be seen as the apple of the eyes for audiences bored of Hollywood blockbusters. The cast, who in most cases are not professionals, amazes with their naturalness and flawless acting skills.

Pai’s grandfather, Koro (Rawiri Paratene), blinded by old family traditions and precepts of his predecessors, refuses to notice a real fighter right next to him. The actor is remarkably persuading, presenting the anger and dissatisfaction with life his character feels throughout the story. We sympathize with his despair and hopeless attempts to continue the traditions until young Pai proves to him that everything is possible, and when he finally overcomes his prejudice and recognizes the real leader. Keisha Castle-Hughes is brilliant in the role of the strongest young girl, who gets through all social stigmas and breaks the rule that only a man can become the leader. She finds support in her grandmother and uncle and does not give up till the very end. Wishing to prove her grandfather that she is worth it, Pai overcomes even a fear of death. She is like a thin reed that bends but never breaks. She is a little girl with a heart of the biggest creature on the planet.

The movie is quite predictable, even a little naive, but it makes us plunge into the fairytale atmosphere — the atmosphere of something more than a calm and regular life of a Maori tribe facing the slow demise of their traditions. On numerous occasions we get a feeling that miracles and wonders are real and present for these characters; that ancient gods and goddesses in fact visit them, riding magical creatures and decide their fates. Naturally, drama turns into fantasy, at the same time staying real. What makes this type of films engaging for the audience will always remain a question for me. At the same time, this is a blessing that films like „The Whale Rider” are still produced as they leave their trace in lives of the most discerning viewers by bringing them back to childhood, when the highest values were strength, faith and kindness.

tytuł: „Jeździec wielorybów”
gatunek: dramat
reżyseria: Niki Caro
produkcja: Niemcy, Nowa Zelandia
rok prod.: 2002



Wróć do wpisów