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Review: Whale Rider

EBarnacle1 01 Sep 03 - 10:31 PM
artbrooks 01 Sep 03 - 10:48 PM
GUEST,Bill Kennedy 02 Sep 03 - 09:28 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 02 Sep 03 - 09:51 AM
Peg 02 Sep 03 - 09:53 AM
Peter T. 02 Sep 03 - 12:54 PM
Peg 02 Sep 03 - 06:12 PM
Steve-o 02 Sep 03 - 06:36 PM
EBarnacle1 03 Sep 03 - 02:16 PM
Amergin 02 Mar 04 - 02:56 AM
GUEST 02 Mar 04 - 07:41 AM
Clinton Hammond 02 Mar 04 - 07:58 AM
InOBU 02 Mar 04 - 08:34 AM
Uncle_DaveO 02 Mar 04 - 10:14 AM
EBarnacle 02 Mar 04 - 02:44 PM
katlaughing 02 Mar 04 - 02:45 PM
Amergin 02 Mar 04 - 02:49 PM
GUEST,Dale 03 Mar 04 - 03:28 AM
Shanghaiceltic 03 Mar 04 - 03:30 AM
dagenham doc 03 Mar 04 - 03:37 AM
Shanghaiceltic 03 Mar 04 - 04:12 AM
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Subject: Review: Whale Rider
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 01 Sep 03 - 10:31 PM

This weekend, I went to my first film in along time. It came to a choice between "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Whale Rider." We chose "Whale Rider."

In brief, it is a tale of a young, motherless Maori girl whose father has run away and left her [from birth] with her grandparents. The grandfather is a chieftan by birth for umpteen generations and, as she is the firstborn child of a lineal chief, she is supposed to be a chief--with all that implies. Oh year, she is also supposed to have been a male. The story is of how she overcomes prejudice, stereotyping and rejection.

It is well played. My initial reaction, early in the film, was that the scenery alone was worth the price of admission. By the end of the film, I was crying and would have sat through it again if Lady Hillary and my sister would have sat with me. I intend to get the video when it is released. Go see it.


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: artbrooks
Date: 01 Sep 03 - 10:48 PM

Saw it. Agree entirely.


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 09:28 AM

scenery is great, story is very formulaic, 'girl succeeds against great odds', never a doubt for a moment that it wouldn't end 'happily'.

It would have been a better film IMHO if she had rode off on the whale and never returned, actually sacrificed herself for the clan. And what is the point? That because of this 'miracle' the different clan members now all work together in harmony, have given up drinking and smoking and just dress up in costume and paddle around in the ceremonial canoe for the rest of their lives? Racism no longer exists? All the Europeans have left the island, with all thiier sheep?
What? Everyone now studies the old language and customs and lives as they used to? Her father gives up his artwork and German girlfriend? (But she is there at the end, so it's even more muddled, the foregners are welcome to join the clan?) Not a bad movie, but it tries so hard to jerk the tears out of you, and succeeds, that it's easy to overlook all of its shortcomings and borrowings. I'm interested in reading the book it was adapted from to see if it's any better. A review of it will follow later.


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 09:51 AM

I saw it a couple of weeks ago here in Halifax.

Probably my best movie experience in 10 years. Awesome cinematography, and amazing story. The actors were superb. Thanks for bringing this up!


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: Peg
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 09:53 AM

I saw it alongside some other critics (reviewed it for the Boston Phoenix) and one of them (from the Globe) agreed with me that   while it did seem like it was sometimes a bit sentimental or manipulative, the overwhelming effect was profoundly moving and coming from a place of deep spiritual and historical perspective. I also thought the performances were all very genuine, especially the girl who played Pai. I do know some other people who saw it and responded the way Bill did, and I have to say my normal response to sentimentality is negative, but something about this film rose above that and it really worked for me. I think the various conflicts surrounding this family and community were authentic enough   that one coldl accept the magical realism, too. The destitute poverty of rural Maoris, the loss of customs and culture, the problems faced by families who grow away from the old ways. I do not agree with the list of problematic conclusions occuring with the film's final moments.   I thought it was fairly clear that the family would try to find a way to be together and try   to hold to tribal customs in ways that included adjusting to the new: allowing Pai to be the new leader allows her father's new wife to join the family, too.   I did not get the idea that suddenly everything would be perfect; but that what may have been an erosion of community and culture would instead be sustained, even with difficulty.


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: Peter T.
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 12:54 PM

I'm with Bill on this -- the movie would have been far better if the story had ended less sentimentally. The idea that stories have to have a happy ending to be powerful is completely pernicious. If she had been sacrificed to bring her community together it would have been much much more powerful.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: Peg
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 06:12 PM

I did expect she would die in the end...and it's somewhat unbelievable she did not...but that underscored the whole idea of whether the "whale ride" actually happened...


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: Steve-o
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 06:36 PM

Yeah, right, Bill and Peter- anything that ends happily or leaves us with a sense that the human race might actually learn from mistakes and grow toward bettering itself is just "sentimental", and "lacks power". You guys are just so hip, life must be a real drag for you.


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 03 Sep 03 - 02:16 PM

Yes, the closure is formulaic. Everyone seems happy at the end. These cavils do not, however, really weaken the movie. As with all drama, the story is about tensions and changes in people. The fact that a traditional culture can be changed and can adapt, even a little, is an important message.


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: Amergin
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 02:56 AM

I just watched it tonight and I love it...I did not see that at the end everyone would live happily ever after...I just saw that they still clung to their traditions...and to me it showed that traditions must adapt in order to survive....the dauther knew this...the grandmother knew this...the whales knew this...the Chief didn't...he was struggling hard to keep the traditions firm and unbending...til he too realised they must adapt in order to survive...in order for his people to survive...


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 07:41 AM

I'm with Bill K & Peter T. Scenery was gorgeous, story was predictable and forumulaic. There was no tension to it for me.

My favorite part in the whole film was the father having the guts to leave his bad father and parochial village, not sell out his heritage, become a contemporary artist, having a German girlfriend, etc. The film would have been a lot more interesting to me if it had been the story of the father, than the girl, actually.


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 07:58 AM

Now, I have yet to see "Monster", and won't begrudge Charlize Theron her Oscar win, but of the movies I've seen this year, I had Keisha Castle-Hughes picked for Best Actress...

And what a wonderful thing that would have been, to see such a talented young girl win such a prestigious award on her first outing...

Her being cast makes me almost want to see Star Wars: Episode 3....


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: InOBU
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 08:34 AM

I am with those who loved it. I would put it with Pathfinder as one of the great films of faith (sorry Mel...) CHeers Larry


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 10:14 AM

GUEST of 7:41 a.m. said, in part:

The film would have been a lot more interesting to me if it had been the story of the father, than the girl, actually.

That might be a good story, but that would be a different movie. And I might want to see it if it were made. But in reviewing this movie, you have to talk about this story line, seems to me.

I was blown away by this movie. One of the best I've seen in a long time.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: EBarnacle
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 02:44 PM

re: comments about formula. There are very few new endings or formulae.

If she had died, would you take the formula from Pinocchio, where the grandfather picks her up [oops, can't do that--as alii, he is not allowed to touch corpses] then the tribe transforms out of guilt--or becomes even more ossified out of guilt.

No matter what ending you choose, it becomes a formula or is derivative.

It has been said that there are no new formulae since Shakespeare/the Bible/Gilgamesh [choose one].

[Note Joe Clone: Problems submitting this. If the above is a duplicate, feel free to delete this one.]


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: katlaughing
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 02:45 PM

We just saw this last night and were very moved by its beauty, acting, and message. Once were warriors hit us with the same impact, in a different way; both will remain with us for a long time to come.

kat


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: Amergin
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 02:49 PM

Yes, Kat, I saw Once Were Warriors several years ago...and I thought that was a powerful film as well.


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 03 Mar 04 - 03:28 AM

After reading this thread early this morning, I bought the DVD on the way home from school today. Got the urge to watch it about 10:30 (11:30 Mudcat Time) and just finished it up, including most of the extras. Most of the good things have already been said, so I'll just say thank you to those who recommended it. Somehow even the slightest knowledge of it had escaped me until now.

On a sadder note, it could be the end for Whangara ~~ 259 Ghost Towns After reading this and several other stories on the topic, it clearly is not a black and white situation. While there do seem to be some valid reasons for the actions, you'd probably have a difficult time convincing the people of Whangara and similar communities.

Again thank you for (mostly) recommending this film. I was much impressed with the young Miss Keisha Castle-Hughes, who was 11 at the time of filming, and had never so much as acted in a school play previously.


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: Shanghaiceltic
Date: 03 Mar 04 - 03:30 AM

I saw the movie in NZ over a year ago. Don't know why it has taken so long to get a proper wordlwide exposure.

I thought it was a beautifully made movie and it deserved it's nomination, pity it did not get an Oscar but maybe that would have been too much. One small country getting 12 of them!

Witi Ihimaera the author of the novel on which the film was based writes beautifully and deserves wider recognition.


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: dagenham doc
Date: 03 Mar 04 - 03:37 AM

It's taken a while because most movies are released first in New Zealand and that's a fact.

Doc


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Subject: RE: Review: Whale Rider
From: Shanghaiceltic
Date: 03 Mar 04 - 04:12 AM

And despatched by courier sheep?


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