Whale Rider dir Niki Caro
31 January 2003


I didn't have an emotional reaction to this film. I didn't think the plot was wonderful, nor was I impressed by the film techniques. But it's a New Zealand film, and as such is ours even more than Lord of the Rings is ours, so as a New Zealander I am very proud of it. I believe this is the first time that traditional Maori culture has been up on the big screen for international audiences. It's the first film we've had about New Zealand heritage (as opposed to New Zealand life). I suppose a lot of it would have seemed a litte weird to non-Kiwis, but so do Japanese films seem weird to me.

As usual I was surprised to find how much of the Maori I could understand. Even without separating out the individual words I knew what was being said most of the time - although the conversation evaded me, an effect of my having dropped Maori early in high school. I got all the traditional chant stuff but missed out on the everyday life.

Undoubtably Witi Ihimaera's book, on which the film was based, goes into a lot more depth. I like Witi Ihimaera and should read the book sometime. But I was impressed by the acting, particularly by the young boy who played Hemi. If this is the future of the NZ film industry, let's gofurrit!


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