This is such a beautiful movie, a wonderful dvd for any collection. In search for a male heir to the Maori tribe, the current leader doesn't see what all, even Nature, could see, that the true heir is already with him, his granddaughter, Pai. This is such a quiet, inspirational film. In a world where we find numerous movies where males dominate, it's inspiring to find one that focuses on the female of the species.
Shelly B. from KENNESAW, GA Reviewed on 9/18/2009...
This is really my all-time favorite movie -- it is inspiring, and a great look into the culture of the native New Zealanders. The gal who stars is incredible.
B Doris D. (Frenchie300) from DETROIT, MI Reviewed on 12/19/2008...
The most poetical film of the 21st century.
1 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Veronika B. Reviewed on 4/13/2008...
This movie is a favorite of mine. The photography, the culture, the gorgeous, stunning music, and the beautiful main actress, make this movie worth watching again and again. It is a very unique film and I can not think of another to compare it to. I feel like every aspect of the movie was very carefully thought out and researched and put together with a high attention to detail. I think what I like best about the movie is how it makes me feel like I am not watching actors, but watching a community of people interacting with each other. The story is beautiful, but it is not for those who enjoy a lot of action. Instead, it is a very relaxing film to watch. The movie's strongest point is the depiction of the wonderful culture of the Maori people.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Susan D. from STATESBORO, GA Reviewed on 3/19/2008...
Lovely family film. Fascinating cultural aspects and lovely photography.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Tina O. (Swan) from LEWISTON, ID Reviewed on 3/6/2008...
It was ok.
0 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Duane S. (superpoet) from FORT WORTH, TX Reviewed on 2/25/2008...
This is a lovely story about a girl who is destined to be the "prophet" of a Maori tribe. Her grandfather has been raised to believe that the prophet can only be a first born boy. Even when signs appear that she is the one, he refuses to let her learn the lessons to become a chief or "chieftess ?". The actress who plays her is wonderful and completely suited to the role. I really liked it. It would be a great picture for school age children.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Aimee M. (AimeeM) Reviewed on 2/5/2008...
This movie is interesting simply for the cultural aspect. It is not action packed, and the plot isn't even that special. But just to see the culture is fascinating in an of itself.
To me, this is a sort of movie you can request, watch, and repost again. Not really a "keeper" but worth the credit to watch once.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Myth and modern realities mixed defty in this lovely tale
Joanna Daneman | Middletown, DE USA | 01/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Set in a remote Maori village in New Zealand, a chief struggles with the death of his grandson and daughter-in-law. She's given birth to twins, died in childbirth, and the boy twin, first-born son of his first-born son, is dead along with his mother. The girl twin survives, but the grandfather practically blames her birth for the tragedy. Who will succeed him and carry on the traditions that stretch back through time? Now the sacred chain of sons of sons has been broken.The love-hate relations of the entire family, grandfather, grandmother, sons, granddaughter are heartrending and heart-warming at the same time. The fight to carry on the Maori traditions in the face of losing them in a modern world, and the struggle of a girl to ascend to chiefdom when girls are forbidden to do so makes for a mythical tale.The young actress who plays Paikea, named for the whale rider who arrived from Hawaaki to found their tribe, is so good, you won't believe this is her debut. Keisha Castle-Hughes is interviewed as an extra feature on this DVD; you will marvel at her brilliance and perception. The footage of whales used plus the models of whales for the most dramatic scene of a whale beaching are astonishingly real. This is one of the most enjoyable films I saw in 2003 and I recommend it highly."
A moving modern-day NZ fable.
Veggiechiliqueen | 08/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Niki Caro's "Whale Rider" (based on the novel by Witi Ihimaera) is an uplifting tale of tradition and inner strength. Twelve-year-old Pai (talented newcomer Keisha Castle-Hughes) lives with her grandparents in a rural New Zealand town. Pai's mother and twin brother died in childbirth, and her artist father took off for Europe, where he now has a new (pregnant) girlfriend. Pai's brother was supposed to be the next chief of her tribe, and with his death Pai's grandfather Koro searches for a new (male) leader, failing to see that it is Pai that possesses the courage and talents of a chieftain. The movie is filled with a haunting soundtrack by Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard, including samples of traditional Maori music by Hirini Melbourne. The cinematography beautifully captures the many moods of light and shadow on mountains and sea, as well as stock footage of majestic whales. "Whale Rider" is an uplifting tale of love, loss, and courage, about tradition in the face of change, and believing in yourself."
"I can't. Girls aren't allowed"
S. Calhoun | Chicago, IL United States | 11/12/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This year has been marvelous in the theatrical release of movies that aim to enrich and encourage young girls to bypass cultural boundaries that hold them back from the biological aspect that they were born female. In a similar fashion to BENDING IT LIKE BECKHAM, WHALE RIDER is a story of a young Maori girl living in New Zealand who desires to become the new tribal leader. But because Pai was born a girl her grandfather prohibits her from learning the cultural traditions. Pai is then forced to sit on the sidelines while other first-born boys are taught the ancient ways of their ancestors. Her stern and strict grandfather often reprimands her and she is determined to prove herself worthy of the post of the new chef.Although there are obvious similarities between these two films, WHALE RIDER contains a more richly textured and nuanced plot. The most compelling part of the story is the anthropological plotline whereby a culture must face its own mortality in a modern world. When old customs and traditions have lost their meaning for every day life, why keep them going? The surprises in the script are not in how it will turn out, but in the matter-of-fact honestly of the characters. Interesting view of a different culture, and well acted. WHALE RIDER is a great viewing experience."
The Whales Will Decide
Brian E. Erland | Brea, CA - USA | 05/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Maori mythology comes to life in the form of Pai, granddaughter of the tribal chief. Tradition demands the next chief be a grandson, but Pai's twin brother and Mother died during childbirth. Left to live with her Grandparents Pai tries to prove her worthiness to her Grandfather but he insists his successor must be a male.
The Maori claim to be descendants of the legendary Paikea who came to New Zealand riding on the back of a whale. This coastal, fishing community has maintained their close spiritual tie with whales for over a thousand years, their mutual destinies forever linked.
When Koro (Pai's grandfather) decides to gather together all the young males of the tribe and teach them the "old ways" in the hopes of finding the next chief Pai tries to join the group but, is rudely dismissed by Koro. In desperation she cries out to the whales, asking for their assistance in her quest for acceptance.
Now it is up to the whales to decide who's to be the "chosen one." A massive herd answers her plea by grounding themselves on the beach. The whole community unite in an attempt to save these sacred giants, seeing their impending deaths as an apocalyptic omen for the Maori people. All their efforts fail and hope is lost until Pai realizes the moment of truth has finally arrived.
What a beautiful, poetic movie. Keisha Castle-Hughes is brilliant as Pai as is the whole cast. It might be a little slow for younger children, but overall a wonderful experience for a family to watch together. Buy this DVD, you'll come away with something new with each viewing."
Lyrical, Enchanting Film Blends Tradition and Modern Life
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 11/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In a New Zealand coastal community, the long-awaited arrival of a Maori tribe's next leader is frustrated when the male grandchild of the Maori Chief dies in childbirth, along with his mother, leaving a surviving twin sister. The infant's father, Porourangi (Cliff Curtis) names the girl Paikea after the first Maori of legend who came to New Zealand on the back of a whale, the name intended for her deceased brother. Unable to face his father's expectations and tribal life after the death of his wife and son, Porourangi leaves New Zealand to pursue a career abroad and leaves his young daughter in the care of her grandparents, Koro (Rawiri Paratene), the tribe's Chief, and Nanny Flowers (Vicky Haughton). The precocious and fearless child, whom everyone calls Pai, wins the heart of her grandparents. But her grandfather still openly laments that Pai is not a boy who could inherit the responsibilities of chief, and he is anxious about his people's fate without a leader to guide them. When Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes) is 12 years old, she begins to think that she might be that leader, in spite of her gender. And her refusal to yield to the traditions which prohibit her from assuming a leadership role threaten to irreparably damage her relationship with her grandfather."Whale Rider" is inspired by the children's novel of the same name by Maori novelist Witi Ihimaera. It was adapted for the screen and expertly directed by New Zealander Niki Caro. This is a very lyrical film that is perfectly paced, so the audience never has a chance to get bored. The characters are all down-to-earth people who are nevertheless not simplistic, and each is sympathetic in his or her own way. The beautiful imagery of the New Zealand coast and the Maori traditions are a pleasure to watch. But the film deals with the universal themes of the traditional coming into conflict with the new and the younger generation with the old. The entire cast is excellent. And newcomer Keisha Castle-Hughes is nothing short of astounding. Her portrayal of Pai is luminous and completely convincing. She pulls the audience into this story the minute she appears on screen. "Whale Rider" is an enchanting film which both children and adults will enjoy.The DVD: Bonus features include: theatrical trailers, tv spots, deleted scenes, a "behind the scenes" documentary, a documentary of the construction of a Maori war canoe for the film, 5 tracks from the film's score, and a photo gallery. I recommend both documentaries. One is a "making of" sort of thing, with interviews with the film's director and cast. The other is called "Te Waka: Building the Canoe" and explains how artists used both traditional and modern methods to construct a ceremonial Maori war canoe for the film in less than a month. The 5 complete tracks from the film's score are also a very nice bonus and may help you decide if you want to purchase the film's original score by composer Lisa Gerrard."