A film can be entertaining and deal with serious issues at the same time. How is this revealed in the film 'Whale Rider' directed by Niki Caro?

Essay by elle_fondaHigh School, 12th gradeA, May 2004

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Based on the novel by Witi Ihimaera, Whale Rider is an uplifting and entertaining film that tells the story of a small Maori tribe, living on the east coast of New Zealand in Whangara, who appear to have lost all sense of faith and interest in the traditions and beliefs of their culture. The Whangara legend of the 'whale rider' dates back many years to when the legendary Maori hero, Paikea, appeared on the back of a whale and established their Maori tribe. Now, over one thousand years later, the current generation of the Maori tribe are struggling with the pressures of the modern world and are in desperate need of a strong leader to help inspire and guide them. They lack enthusiasm and in order to prevent the total loss of this culture, a new leader is needed to be recognised to lead the people back to understanding the importance of the existence of their culture.

Koro, the elderly chief of the tribe, understands the need for a new leader - someone who will re-awaken the tribe and renew its lost strength and identity. The leader appears in the character of young Pai, played by Keisha Castle-Hughes, Koro's beloved grand daughter. However, Pai fails to be recognized as the new leader as she is a girl, and her Maori tribe is still very much dominated by the notion of a patriarchal society.

Whale Rider is an entertaining film consisting of all the main features of a typical, popular movie, including an interesting plot and good casting. These factors help create an appeal to a fairly broad ranging audience. However, it is important to note that the film also functions on a much deeper level. Many serious issues are incorporated into the story line of the film and this additional...