Whale Rider Movie Review
Whale rider (2002) by Niki Caro is a film about a girl whose gender influences her ability to become chief when she is skilled to become one. Some of the key themes in the film were, gender should not influence somebody's ability to be a leader and tradition can sometimes be unfair. The dialogue, “she’s no use to me,” is said by Koro (grandfather) to Pai multiple times because she is a girl.
In the film, Pai is not allowed to become the next chief, despite her being the next in the bloodline because she is a girl. A key moment is when Pai is leading a group and sits at the front after the first Powhiri, Koro (Pais grandfather and current chief) says “Go to the back, you’re a girl”. The camera closes up on Pai’s face to see her expression when she finally leaves it shows Nanny Flowers smirking. Koro is too strict on tradition and he doesn’t see Pais worth of being a leader. Pai clearly shows Koro that if she isn't allowed to lead, she would rather not attend the Powhiri.
When Koro decides to make a school for the first-born sons to choose the next chief of the Marae, all the boys fail to complete the last mission, collecting the whale tooth. Koro falls into depression and tries to call for the ancient ones for forgiveness, but they don't listen. Pai sees Koro doing that and tries to help by calling them herself, they listen. “He was calling for the ancient ones, asking them to help. But they weren't listening. So I tried. And they heard me,” is a voiceover by Pai. This scene shows us that even though tradition can be unfair if you have the skills to become chief, most people will be able to accept you in.
Near the end of the film, Pai has a prize giving and invites Koro to it. Koro doesn't go, despite Koros absence, Pai had written a speech for Koro to explain to the crowd that even though she is a girl, she can lead. “I was not the leader my grandfather was expecting, and by being born, I broke the line back to the ancient ones. It wasn't anybody's fault; it just happened. But we can learn and if the knowledge is given to everyone, then we can have lots of leaders and soon everyone will be strong, not just the ones who’ve been chosen,” was the speech. A mid shot was used during the speech, and we could see how nervous and sad she was from her body movement and facial expression.
The key themes in the film Whale Rider were, gender should not influence somebody’s ability to lead and sometimes tradition can be unfair. Pai had been told multiple times that she wouldn’t be suitable for chief, but was resilient and kept going. A lot of mid shots and close-ups were used in these to show us each characters facial and body movement. Pai shows us that if you have the courage and traits anyone could become chief/leader no matter their gender.