Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

on BBC-2
"It's about a young girl who dreams of riding a whale. Everybody laughs at her, until at the end of the film, she does."

I'm sure I'm paraphrasing, but as I recall that's pretty much the description I got when I was first told about this movie back in '04.

For those outside New Zealand, Whale Rider is a New Zealand / Germany film about modern-day Māoris accepting their history. In New Zealand it was so big that it even spawned a stage musical.

12-year-old actress Keisha Castle-Hughes did pretty well out of it too, and deservedly so. She's not just the kid lucky enough to land the lead role, she actually is extremely good in this.

The plot treads such a well-worn Hollywood path that there are just about no surprises at all in here, but then it's not really a film about strategic twists and turns, far more about the journey.

The whole thing sounds great too. As someone who misses New Zealand's people, culture and landscape, I was captivated throughout. There are so many expressions and images that I haven't heard or seen anywhere since my plane departed 18+ months ago, that I found this journey to be quite a welcoming one. There's one scene where everyone is out in a field, and I was delighted to find myself once again listening to the local birdsong.

A lovely hour and a half, though maybe not to everyone's pace.


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