Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Whale Rider (Caro, 2002): Mini-Film Review

Whale Rider (Caro, 2002), based on the novel by Witi Ihimaera, is an accessible coming of age film that I have watched a number of times with my children -- it presents the life of a girl named Paikea (excellently portrayed by Keisha Castle-Hughes) who belongs to the Whangara community in northeast New Zealand. Paikea's family believes that the next chief must be a boy, but Paikea challenges this stereotype by demonstrating all of the correct attributes of a chief -- the tension of the film is generated by the fact that it takes so long for others to accept this reality. The film asks questions of identity such as: "Where are we from?" & "What's wrong with me?" And in the end it is the narrative development itself that really captivates, despite some interesting stylistic moves with both sound and underwater photography.

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