In a culture steeped in tradition, one young girl challenged the past and found hope for the future. The Maori living in a small village on the coast of New Zealand claim their descent from Paikea, the Whale Rider. In every generation, a male heir has succeeded as chief. That time is now. When twins are born and the boy twin dies, Koro the chief is unwilling to accept his grand-daughter, Pai, as a future leader. As Pai matures, KIoro remains convinced that the tribe's misfortunes began at her birth and calls for his people to bring their sons to him, in the hope that the new leader is among them. Pai loves Koro more than anyone in the world, but she must stand up to him and a thousand years of tradition to reveal the true way forward.
Superb - far more than a children's film
- Whale Rider review by RP
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You rated this film: 5
A coming of age film with a difference - a tremendous difference, since this is set in a small Maori costal settlement in present day New Zealand, and not (as almost all others are) in smalltown USA.
Beautifully photographed, it tells the tale of the chief Koro who has no first-born grandson to lead the tribe. Sadly, his grandson died at birth - but his twin sister Paikea survived. Koro has no time for girls - but Paikea is strong willed and the stuff of which leaders are made...
Young Keisha Castle-Hughes plays the role of Paikea to perfection and was Oscar nominated. Only 11 years old when the film was made, her performance is quite astonishing.
The film won the 2003 BAFTA Children's Best Feature Film Award - but it's far more than a children's film.