Whale Rider

New Zealand/Germany 2002. Dir: Niki Caro. 101 min. Blu-ray Disc

An arthouse smash in the early aughts, Whale Rider tells the poignant tale of a young Maori girl in a modern New Zealand coastal village and her battle to become her tribe’s future leader. Paikea (Oscar-nominated Keisha Castle-Hughes) is the namesake of her ancestor Paikea, a legendary chief who rode a whale to safety and began the line of first-born male chiefs who’ve led the Whangara tribe through the centuries. After her father, who refuses the position, Paikea is the only living heir to this succession — but tradition bars women from becoming chief or training for the role’s sacred rituals. Directed by Niki Caro, and adapted from Maori writer Witi Ihimaera’s novel of the same name, Whale Rider became an instant favourite of filmgoers of all ages. “Inspiring and heartwarming ... One of the 50 films to watch before you’re 14” (British Film Institute).


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REVIEWS

"Wickedly absorbing ... It has the inspiring resonance of found art."

New York Times | full review

"A crowd-pleaser in the best sense of the word: It wins you over without cheating."

Rolling Stone | full review

★★★★ "One of the great audience-grabbers of recent years ... 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."

Roger Ebert | full review


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