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Finding Purpose in Whale Rider

October 20, 2008

The Movie

Whale Rider is the coming-of-age story of Paikea (Keisha Castle-Hughes), an adolescent girl from the Maori (New Zealand) tribe who, after losing her twin brother and mother during childbirth, becomes the heir to her family.  Paikea’s grandfather, Koro (Rawiri Paratene), the village elder, is bitter that his son left New Zealand after the death of Paikea’s mother and is reluctant to teach Paikea the Maori customs simply because she is female.  To channel this frustration, Koro starts a school for boys and refuses Paikea’s every advance to attend the rituals taught there.  Undeterred by her grandfather’s refusal and meanness, Paikea relies on her instincts and challenges conventional Maori wisdom.  What follows are dramatic scenes in which she upstages the village boys in various tasks and eventually fulfills a prophecy within her community.  In the end, Koro is forced to accept Paikea’s birthright, make peace with his family and his ancestors. 

 

The Message

Simply put, this movie is awesome and it pulls the viewer in at every scene with messages about purpose and destiny.  There are several messages in the film.  The first and most obvious is that Paikea refuses to let her gender keep her from doing the impossible.  At several points in the film Koro acknowledges, albeit within himself, that Paikea is the chosen one who is to fulfill the village prophecy and restore peace to the community.  However, he allows past anger to cloud his judgment.  The second and most powerful theme is that Paikea embraces her birthright and follows her intuition despite being laughed at and otherwise ridiculed by her community.  She is unapologetic for defying her grandfather’s commands, listens to her “inner voice”, and relies on her intuition to be her guide.

 

Your Wellness

Can you think of a time when you felt like you were meant to do something but it seemed impossible? Maybe someone told you that you couldn’t learn a particular trade, go to certain school, or closed doors in your face because your money was funny.  Maybe you listened to that person or even tried your best and things still did not work out for you. If you are so confident in your convictions that you can actually see yourself doing whatever it is that you want then you have to buckle down and develop your inner strength.  Like Paikea, you’ve got to listen to your “inner voice” and be confident in your abilities.  Believe it or not, there is actually scientific evidence in “faking it until you make it.”  Trust me, confidence goes a long way.   

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One comment

  1. Finally, thoughts and opinions on the film industry from an individual willing to delve beyond the surface to discuss issues relating to Black audiences. I look forward to reading more of what you have to say. Speak!



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