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Whale Rider

Whale Rider

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With her second feature film as a writer/director Niki Caro created an international profile as one the world's top female directors. Our next Rialto Recommends is that film, her 2003 feature WHALE RIDER. On the east coast of New Zealand, the Whangara people believe their presence there dates back a thousand years or more to a single ancestor, Paikea, who escaped death when his canoe capsized by riding to shore on the back of a whale. From then on, Whangara chiefs have always been the first-born and male. Many generations later, the contemporary tale revolves around a young mother whose male newborn twin dies in childbirth. Her young husband flees New Zealand in grief, leaving grandparents Koro and Nanny Flowers to raise the sole survivor, a feisty little girl named Pai, who radiates with life and energy. It's no wonder that her grandmother and the entire community love her, but alas, the grandfather she worships is too busy mourning the loss of the baby boy he expected would lead the tribe to better days. Time Out raved "Niki Caro roots her characters in a landscape equal parts mundane and boundless, incorporates tantalising sea photography and Lisa's Gerrard's ambient soundtrack, and lifts off into a sublime, Elysian ending." The Los Angeles Times exclaimed "When the words 'Dedicated to those who came before' appear on screen at the close, you can almost feel all those ancestors joining modern audiences in applauding what has been accomplished here." And Roger Ebert raved "The genius of the movie is the way is sidesteps all of the obvious cliches of the underlying story and makes itself fresh, observant, tough and genuinely moving." WHALE RIDER is streaming on IMDBtv, Roku Channel, Hoopla, Tubi, and Sundance Now. It is also available for rent for a modest fee from Amazon, GooglePlay, YouTube, Vudu, AppleTv and others. While we await Ms. Caro's big screen adaptation of Disney's animated film Mulan in August, check out WHALE RIDER HERE.

Film Facts
Running Time
MPAA Rating
Rawiri Paratene
Cliff Curtis
Vicky Haughton
Keisha Castle-Hughes
Directed by
Niki Caro
Written by
Niki Caro
Witi Ihimaera
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