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Whale Rider
Keisha Castle-Hughes and Rawiri Paratene




Overview -
New Zealand's Maori culture is the focus of WHALE RIDER, the powerful coming-of-age tale of Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes), a 13-year-old girl who feels destined to become leader and chief to her tribe although that role has always been reserved for males. In part, the role is her birthright, as her twin brother died in childbirth, and she survived. However, her grandfather, Koro (Rawiri Paratene), who is the current chief, stands firmly in the way of Pai's dream. He is extremely traditional and is superstitious that even Pai's curiosity in learning to be chief could upset the ancestors (who are the whales themselves). Pai's grandmother, Flowers (Vicky Haughton), defies Koro to support Pai, and her uncle, Rawiri (Grant Roa), trains her in the chants and battle techniques she needs. The rest is intuition, and Pai has loads of it--enough to communicate with the ancestors, and call them to her for help and guidance. Weaving family life, cultural tradition, and an ancient myth into a contemporary story, WHALE RIDER is a tender tale. As Pai, first-time actress Castle-Hughes is a small but impressive warrior, perfectly balancing kid naivety with adult bravery. The traditional costumes, language, chants, and personality of the Maori people come through well, while the tale is clearly a modern fiction, based on a novel by Witi Ihimaera. Beautiful and dramatic New Zealand landscapes and dreamy underwater whale photography cement the formula of the film and add to its magic.

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DVD (15th Anniversary Edition)
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Overview

New Zealand's Maori culture is the focus of WHALE RIDER, the powerful coming-of-age tale of Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes), a 13-year-old girl who feels destined to become leader and chief to her tribe although that role has always been reserved for males. In part, the role is her birthright, as her twin brother died in childbirth, and she survived. However, her grandfather, Koro (Rawiri Paratene), who is the current chief, stands firmly in the way of Pai's dream. He is extremely traditional and is superstitious that even Pai's curiosity in learning to be chief could upset the ancestors (who are the whales themselves). Pai's grandmother, Flowers (Vicky Haughton), defies Koro to support Pai, and her uncle, Rawiri (Grant Roa), trains her in the chants and battle techniques she needs. The rest is intuition, and Pai has loads of it--enough to communicate with the ancestors, and call them to her for help and guidance. Weaving family life, cultural tradition, and an ancient myth into a contemporary story, WHALE RIDER is a tender tale. As Pai, first-time actress Castle-Hughes is a small but impressive warrior, perfectly balancing kid naivety with adult bravery. The traditional costumes, language, chants, and personality of the Maori people come through well, while the tale is clearly a modern fiction, based on a novel by Witi Ihimaera. Beautiful and dramatic New Zealand landscapes and dreamy underwater whale photography cement the formula of the film and add to its magic.

Main Cast & Crew

Niki Caro - Director
Keisha Castle-Hughes
Rawiri Paratene
Vicky Haughton
Cliff Curtis
Grant Roa

 

Details

DVD Format
  • Format: DVD (15th Anniversary Edition)
  • Run Time: 105
  • Color Format: Color
  • UPC: 826663178623
  • Genre: Drama
  • Rating: PG-13 (MPAA) (brief language and a momentary drug reference)
  • Release Date: October 2003

Related Categories:
Movies > Dramas

Related Keywords:
Coming Of Age
Theatrical Release
Teenage Girls
Essential Cinema

 

Movie Reviews

More Details

Notes:
Theatrical Release: JUNE 6, 2003 (LA/NY)

Reviews:
"...[Featuring] Niki Caro's brisk direction, the bracing otherness of the coastal New Zealand landscape, and the fantastic performances of a wonderful cast..." - 06/01/2003 Premiere, p.22


"...There's magic in it....A film of female empowerment that resonates deeply. Castle-Hughes is a star in the making. She and her movie are worth cheering for..." - 06/26/2003 Rolling Stone, p.88


"...Ms. Caro treats the material with the calm of a silent film and exploits the extravagant beauty of the location for its majesty....It has the inspiring resonance of found art..." - 06/06/2003 New York Times, p.E14


"...Moving, dreamily paced....Caro gives the fablesque story -- based on a 1,000-year-old Maori legend -- both a contemporary and timeless quality, anchored by newcomer Castle-Hughes' powerful and haunting performance..." - 06/06/2003 USA Today, p.5E


"...A substantial film of unexpected emotional force..." - 06/06/2003 Los Angeles Times, p.C5


"...Inviting..." - 06/13/2003 Entertainment Weekly, p.72


"...[The film] has enormous charm, pathos and visual beauty, thanks to the talents of director Niki Caro..." - 07/01/2003 Movieline's Hollywood Life, p.115


"What a splendid film for the entire family! Keisha Castle-Hughes stars in a sparkling performance..." - 12/21/2003 Chicago Sun-Times, p.11

 

BAM Customer Reviews