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Whale Rider’s Movie Review

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Whale Rider’s Movie Review essay
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Whale Rider: Reflection

The movie, Whale Rider, takes place in New Zealand, somewhere of in the mountains in the 2000’s. Our main character’s story starts off in a hospital setting and a mother is giving birth to a freshly born, baby girl, named Paikea Apirana. Even though, this is supposed to be a happy moment this causes the father, Koro Apirana, much dismay because his wife gave birth to a girl. A girl would not be able to carry the Maori tradition, or so Koro thought. He states that this is the day, “Everything went wrong for them as couple.” After he says this statement, it is later shown that his older son, Porourangi, left for Germany to pursue his career.

Shortly after the son left for Germany, Koro’s wife was announced dead somewhere along giving birth. Koro, when handed Paikea, does not want to hold his daughter. This is when Koro’s mother, Nanny Flowers (Pai’s grandmother), comes in and argues with her son about Pai and telling Koro that his wife may have given birth to a girl, but he has no idea what she could become. From this dreadful scene, Nanny and Koro take Paikea to live with them.

The main reason why Koro was so angry at his wife and Pai was because of Maori culture. In many Oceanic cultures, men were the chiefs and seen as the sacred link between ocean gods and the way of life. Women were regarded as soiled treasures. They were great for giving birth and that was pretty much it. It was because women menstruated that made them seemed unpure and grotesque. In other words, any, if not all Oceanic tribes did not want period in the water. The main source of their food and the Gods.

A few years later, when Pai is a bit older, we see life is getting more stressful for them all as a family. The first scene we see with Pai is the interaction with her aunts. Two of three aunts were smoking at a table playing cards, once Pai smells the smoke in the air, she makes a remark to her aunts saying, “Maori women should not smoke. It messes with our birthing properties.” This scene is very important because it shows that Pai carries an understanding of their culture and follows it strongly. She believes that the Oceanic gods are still part of their world and the Whales are still in control of their mundane outcomes.

Progressing through, Paikea is now ten years old, at this point in time a new chief has to be named, so all he little boys that are ten and above are gathered from the village to go to the ceremony grounds. At the religious grounds, they will go through four trials to prove which of the young men are the best of the best is. If one is currently reading this paragraph there is a trend to be notice. Only adolescent males were able to partake of the joy of becoming a chief. Women were only able to enjoy the kitchen and nursing children.

Even if Paikea loved and followed her father’s every word, she did let the opportunity of becoming chief pass her by. Her father prohibited her from training or enjoying the lessons that the boys went through every day after school. Unknown to Porourangi, Pai trained every minute in the shadows and was trained by her uncle in staff combat. Eventually, Porourangi found out she was training behind his back when Pai knocked one of the boys down to the ground. He told Pai to stay out of the way and she was nothing, but a curse to him from day one.

Both were hurt and called out to the gods to help their crumbling family bonds. The next day a whole bunch of whales washed up on shore and everybody was trying to shove them back into the water, but none of them would budge. Porourangi came to the conclusion that if they moved the biggest whale, the rest would follow it. To no avail, the whale did not budge. Paikea was watching the townspeople work the whole time and when they all left she took it upon herself to help solve the problem since she deemed it was her fault for calling upon the gods and beaching them. When she came eye to eye with the whale, she said a little prayer, then straddled its back. The whale, amazingly, stated to go back into the water with Pai still on its back. Pai accepted her fate and stayed, believing that it would mean a better Nanny Flowers was the first to notice that the whale moving with Pai along its back. Horrified, they retrieved Paikea from the water, and at this moment Porourangi released that Pai was the true Whale Rider the whole time.

The movie ends on a happy note, celebrating their new chief, Paikea. The movie’s end tone is a lot happier and cheery. Pai’s relationship with her father is repaired and a lot more healthy than it was before.

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Whale Rider’s Movie Review. (2018, December 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 9, 2021, from
“Whale Rider’s Movie Review.” GradesFixer, 11 Dec. 2018,
Whale Rider’s Movie Review. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 9 Dec. 2021].
Whale Rider’s Movie Review [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Dec 11 [cited 2021 Dec 9]. Available from:
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