Whale Rider
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Customer Reviews:

  • Don't tell the guys, I liked this movie.
    OK this movie is a chick-flick. With that said, I am male and I enjoyed it. Unlike American movies, it does not spend all of its time developing the characters. Instead it develops the situation to a climax. It is well written, although a little predictable at times. I should warn all the tough guys out there that it will make you weep like a girl at the end, so don't see it with other guys....more info
  • Whale Rider
    One of my favorite movies. It's so moving! It's great how this movie shows how generations change, that women can do some thing men can, sometimes even better. And how sometimes, it takes a tragedy to make a stubborn, mean, old man open his eyes....more info
  • Whale Rider
    This movie is a wonderful family movie...I highly recommend it. Arrived quickly and in perfect condition....more info
  • best movie ever
    This movie is SO special! Its moving,beautiful and full of inspiration. Its my all time favorite movie....more info
  • Whle Rider
    This is a wonderfully told story about a family coming to terms with traditions clashing with new realities, and how preconcieved notions about gender have to give way to those realities. The women in this story are strong, quietly forceful, and ultimately prove to be the leaders in the family. I live this film and the messages it gives. ...more info
  • The Whales Will Decide
    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. ...more info
  • Great idea but lacks pizzazz
    I liked this movie a little but not a lot. It was too slow-paced for my taste. I think a lot of kids would get bored with this movie. Maybe older children without A.D.D. could handle it. This was a great "idea" for a movie but the story could have been presented in a better way - a more entertaining and exciting way. It seemed to lack "pizzazz". I have to admit I saw this movie on the "Oxygen" channel on cable the other day so, I didn't see it in its theatrical version. Keisha Castle-Hughes, the little 13-year-old girl in the leading role, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. I don't think she deserved the nomination. The only thing I saw that she could do well was cry. It was very believable. But that's just not enough to be nominated for an Academy Award. Maybe the standards with the Academy have come down now.

    I liked this movie enough to recommend seeing it at least once. The only reason I didn't give it a lower grade is because of the story and also I could relate to this little girl in a way because I felt the same way she did about being a girl in a "man's" or "boy's" world and that it's hard to be taken seriously when you know you can lead or you know you are good at something that is usually reserved for "boys only". I could relate to the way her grandfather treated her. I experienced the same treatment growing up - You can't do that, you're a girl - you'll get hurt!! I also love whales and I liked the mystical and supernatural feeling in the movie. I just wish the movie had more flash and sparkle. My rating: C...more info
  • healing wounds
    A young Maori girl Paikea (newcomer Keisha Castle-Hughes) in New Zealand is reared by her grandparents. Her father (played by the excellent Cliff Curtis) leaves New Zealand after he loses both his wife and Paikea's twin brother in childbirth. Pai's grandfather is the strictly traditional Maori tribal chief whose hopes for the future of their tribe rested with and died with the birth of the baby boy. The grandfather is struggling against modernism, struggling to maintain tradition and to educate a new generation of young Maori men. He is resentful that the baby who was born to be leader of the tribe has been taken away; his own son cannot face the reality and runs away, leaving the resentful grandfather to rear Paikea. The son has not only shirked his family responsibilities and tribal responsibilities, he has left behind his useless daughter. The baby son had been "the chosen one", the grandfather believes, as the "whale rider" and uniter of the tribe must be male. Paikea, in stark contrast to her grandfather who barely tolerates her, loves and reveres her grandfather more than anything, but is strongly drawn to the Maori traditions and customs, constantly defying her grandfather's stubborn opposition to her learning or participating in men's Maori customs. When Pai's father returns from Europe, the grandfather sees a glimmer of hope, trying to unite him with a Maori woman- only to have his son Porourangi reveal that he has a pregnant German girlfriend back home. The grandfather is livid, and Paikea is going to leave to go to Germany to live with her father. New Zealand, though, mysteriously beckons her to stay. She continues to defy her grandfather, enlisting her uncle to teach her the warrior ways. Eventually her grandfather shuns her entirely; Pai is heartbroken. His stubbornness not only hurts Pai deeply, it stands in the way of progress, acceptance and the dreams he holds dearest for the future of his people. The storytelling in this film is subtle, beautiful and heartbreaking. The cinematography is grippingly beautiful, and the relationships between people ultimately heal all wounds. ...more info
  • Mystical, ethereal, and doesn't feel like a movie
    How refreshing to find a film that feels more like you're observing a slice of life than a watching a big Hollywood blockbuster.

    WHALE RIDER is the story of Paikea, the female surviving twin and most recent decendant of her Maori tribe's line of chiefs. But leadership does not extend to girls in their tribe, and her grandfather tries to find the "true chief" among boys in the village by conducting lessons of strength and endurance. Pai (played extremely effectively by first-time actress Keisha Castle-Hughes) is not allowed to join in these lessons, but her indomitable spirit is not crushed by her grandfather's rejection. There are excellent supporting characters, such as Pai's grandmother, uncle, and often-absent father. Each of these supporting characters help play a part in molding her character into a young woman with the leadership qualities her grandfather is looking for in others.

    This is a very well-made movie because it doesn't feel like a movie. You are simply watching these colorful characters live their lives, exert their beliefs, and become one with their beautiful New Zealand surroundings. It is a treat for anyone who likes a quality film as well as for young people who can appreciate a fine story. Enjoy--...more info
  • Charming and delightful--a myth for the modern spirit!
    Whale rider provides a theme that most people can relate to--the one who is opressed becomes the leader. The delightful lead actor provides a believable and likeable performance as the girl who is the redemption of her people--after being rejected due to her gender. Also, some interesting insight into a different culture--the Maori of New Zealand....more info
  • Just one of the best movies of the year!
    Whale Rider is a beautiful movie, you will love it and find it meaningful....more info
  • This Movie Sucks!
    I've seen this movie before, and it sucked. If I was Pei (the girl), I would have gone with my dad, instead of stay, and why did the whales come onto the land? They know they can't live without water. I suggest for no one to see this stupid movie. I give it a 1 out of 5, actually, I give it a 0 out of 5.

    I SEE NO SEQUEL!...more info
  • Wonderful!
    "Whale Rider" is the sort of touching, beautiful film that seldom gets made anymore--at least not in the United States. Apart from expert, hands-off direction by Niki Caro and a richly authentic performance by lead Keisha Castle-Hughes, this gem from New Zealand has the courage to present complex characters in a situation that is universally appealing. The birth of Pai (Castle-Hughes) should be a cause for celebration, but her grandfather (Rawiri Paratene, in a marvellous performance) is torn between his love for the girl and his fear and disappointment that she was not born a he. What follows is a multi-generational struggle between tradition and familial bonds, as Pai sets out to prove to her grandfather that she is the fated "whale rider" that will succeed him as tribal leader. The great thing about "Whale Rider" is that the conflicts are immediately recognizable, with no real violence and even though no one in the film is truly a villain. With warmth, humor, and some genuine tears, the film explores the themes of duty, change, sacrifice, partriarchy, and, in the end, love--all in so natural a way that the film seems less art and more real life. Not bad. Not bad at all....more info
  • Coming of age in New Zealand
    This is another classic New Zealand film with amazing performances from all the cast. I dropped lucky with this movie, I got it for a dollar would you believe! Blockbusters was selling ex-rental copies to raise money for an appeal and I happened to be in the shop on that day, lucky or what?

    The plot is not complex, the Whangara people have long believed their presence in New Zealand dates a millennium, what is more they can trace their origins to a single ancestor who was lucky enough to escape death when his canoe capsized in the ocean and he rode to shore on the back of a whale.

    From that time on the Whangara chiefs, have been considered this man's direct descendants as their natural born tribal leader.

    Jump forward to the 21st century and we meet Pai played by the understated Keisha Castle-Hughes, an 11-year-old girl who comes to believe she is destined to be the new chief.

    However Pai's grouchy and somewhat bitter grandfather Koro, (Pai's male twin died at birth) played fantastically by Rawiri Paratene is bound by tradition to pick a male leader and he cannot see that Pai is in fact the next true leader of their tribe and it is his stubbornness and anger that just might lead to a terrible tragedy if he does not open his eyes before it is too late...

    This is one of the best films to come out of the 21st century; the scenery is breath taking, the acting first class and the sound-track spot on. What more can you ask for?

    One of the most wonderful scenes for me is when Pai takes to the sea on the back of whale, at that moment she knows she cannot change her Grandfather's mind so she gives herself to nature and rides on the back of a whale, letting it take her down into the depth of an ancient ocean.

    A truly awesome film that that is worth watching over and over again just for that scene alone....more info
  • A really great movie...
    I really enjoyed this movie. When I saw Keisha Castle-Hughes doing an interview on Jay Leno I just had to see the movie. She is such an amazing girl & she draws you right into the movie. I really enjoyed watching this little girl challenge her Grandfater & train to prove him wrong when he tells her that she can't be the leader because she is a girl. This little girl really knew her destiny & she wasn't going to let anybody stand in her way. She sure proves herself. This is a must see movie....more info
  • Destined to be a Classic
    This is one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen. The first time I saw it, it was required for a British Literature class I took in college. I didn't want to see it because it was one of those movies that I felt was being forced on me. The movie theaters charge so much nowadays just to see a movie. However, I am glad that I did see it. I recommend it for anybody who loves to cry a lot and they better take a big box of Kleenex with them. There was not a dry eye in the movie house the day I saw it....more info
  • touching, adventurous, uplifiting.
    Great movie for kids and adults alike. Keeps the children's attention. Exposure to culture, traditions, animals, love and triumph....more info
    Whale Rider is a wonderful story that breaks the limitations of gender or age revealing that wisdom can be found in a young girl. Despite what the male elders and tribal community members believe, the "Whale Rider" is not at all who or what they expected. This makes for a very intriguing movie with a truly uplifting ending. This movie is excellent both adults and children. It receives my "two thumbs up"!...more info
  • A fantastic teaching tool for world literature
    Note: This review is by a high school English teacher.

    First, the objections of some other viewers are correct. The plot IS predictable and the message IS politically correct. A little girl who is destined to be the new leader of her patriarchal tribe has to prove herself against the stubborn resistance and willful blindness of her grandfather, who is the current tribal chieftain. Obviously, the film is not going to end with her being packed off to a nunnery.

    Now onto the real meat of this film - stupendous spirituality, near perfect story execution, hauntingly magical presentation, rich cultural content and of course, Keisha Castle-Hughes, who was apparently born to light up a movie screen with her eyes.

    If you are teaching world literature, I would honestly put this film in my top 20 of all time for that purpose. One writing prompt I used was, "What cultures do you claim as your own, and what can you tell me about them?" This prompt caused such an animated discussion about culture, especially in the wake of the film, that it had to spill over into the next class.

    BTW - in my opinion, the "PG-13" rating is completely unwarranted, and "PG" would have been spot-on. However, I can't speak for your own cultural or personal sensibilities, and I would certainly recommend a complete pre-viewing before you show it....more info
  • serious girl power
    Pai, a 12-year old Maori girl in remote New Zealand, is raised by her deeply angry grandfather who wants to pass on the traditions of his tribal culture and history, but must face the realities of a modernizing world. But the tables are turned when Pai teaches him and becomes the new leader. Exquisite scenery and a powerful story, I took my teenage daughter and girlfriends after seeing it with my wife....more info
  • Whale Rider
    This movie shows the culture and customs of native poeple living in New Zeland. A story about a girl who is getting rejected and being discriminated; despite this fact she fights for the attention she deserves and proves her bravery....more info
  • A must
    This film is fantastic and a real tear jerker. Everyone should view this film. All of my grand-children loved it. However the film is not only for children but also parents and grand-parents. What terrific lessons are learned from it. A must....more info
  • Great film
    I originally saw this film in the theater and was so impressed by it that I bought the VHS as a present for a friend. We watched it with several other people and everyone enjoyed it immensely. It shows the strength and persistence of a young girl against the traditions of her community and how she is finally recognized for her tremendous spiritual power. I highly recommend this film. ...more info
  • Whale Rider
    Wonderful story of a girl who was born to be chief of her Maori tribe in New Zealand. Her grandfather can't accept that a mere girl is the annointed one, the coming chief. He excludes her from the training necessary to be chief, which includes stick fighting. But she learns nonetheless and proves, time after time, that she is the one. In the climactic scene she performs a miracle out of Maori tradition, perhaps a Maori equivalent of a newborn Moses recreating a Biblical story, the only problem being that the new Moses is a girl.

    If you are curious as to the nature of the miracle that our darling Maori girl is to perform, just notice the title of the story....more info
  • Whale of a Film
    "Whale Rider", a New Zealand film, is a story about a Maori tribe in modern times, with a twist of their tales and tradition thrown in. It's based on the 1987 novel of the same name. I thought I'd like it much more than I actually did, unfortunately.

    Pai is a twelve year old Maori girl, the latest in a line of chiefs, an only daughter, very passionate about her people and culture, and who loves her grandfather, the chief of their region, very much. Daughters cannot go on to be chiefs, no matter how passionate they are, that is the tradition, and a tradition Pai's grandfather is determined to keep. Deciding to ignore his daughter completely, the old chief calls together all the Maori boys in the community, teaching them the old ways, the whats and the whys. In secret, Pai spys on them, learning the old ways too, creating an even bigger rift between her grandfather, a rift he refuses to mend.

    I found it was rather serious and melodramatic (the dialogue, the shots, the music, the acting) like there was (or had to be) significance in everything that happened in the story. There was very little humour, which is a shame, because I'm sure I would have enjoyed the film a bit more if it had. The Maoris have a great sense of humour in real life, and its lacking a bit here. This film makes them out to be very stressed and intense, for the most part. Ah well. Through the film, I learnt a little bit about the culture of the Maoris, but considering it was one of the central parts of the film, it didn't seem to get too deep or detailed with explanations. Also, the title of the film is a bit misleading. There isn't an awful lot of whale riding, and I was looking forward to that. Where there is some, it's pretty well done, I thought.

    An all right film. Worth a look, I suppose....more info