Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Whale Rider

I saw most of a movie last night that I'd always been meaning to see. The Oxygen network was showing "Whale Rider." The movie is about a pre-teen girl in New Zealand who lives with her grandparents. Her grandfather comes from a long line of chiefs and, sadly, her birth, as a female, has "broken" the line. Her grandmother reminded me of Aunt Doris. The movie touches on topics of tradition and stereotypes, but also shows the ragged edges of family and the ebb and flow of familial dynamics. It also has a strong folkloric message, and is quite magical (there is literally a scene of "whale riding").

The star, Keisha Castle-Hughes, is wonderful. She's only 14 years old, and had never acted at all prior to this movie, but shows pretty incredible depth. There's a scene where she's performing a speech and a song at a school recital that's just strong and beautiful and heartbreaking. She was nominated for an Oscar this year for her performance and, while she lost to Charlize Theron for "Monster," I hope it's not the last we'll see of her.

And, of course, the movie got me thinking about New Zealand again. I would love to go back.


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