“Whale Rider” begins when a young woman is giving birth. The woman gives birth to a set of twins (a boy and a girl), one of which (the boy) dies. The mother also dies. The death of the male baby spells trouble for the community of Whangara because the first-born, who has always been male, is considered Paikea’s direct descendant. These descendants are destined to be the new chief. From that moment, Koro, the twins’s grandfather, believes that the community of Whangara is doomed.
As Pai grows older, she believes herself to be destined to be the new chief. However, due to Koro’s belief in tradition, she has to fight him all the way through. Koro assembles an all-male school designed to teach the boys the old ways of their people, and hopes to eventually find his chief. Pai hides and watches the lessons, attempting to learn from her observations. Unfortunately for her, Koro catches her many times and she believes that he has begun to despise her.
When Koro has lost all hope, he calls unto their ancestors for help, but they do not listen. In an attempt to help, Pai calls unto them as well and is successful. However, her success isn’t what she’d hoped for. The whales from the ocean wash up onto the beach and all begin to die. When the people can’t get them back into the water, it is up to Pai to take action and try to save the whales, as well as her people.
I really enjoyed watching this film. It was interesting to see the different traditions of their people. I always find it somewhat interesting to how different other cultures are from ours. Just the little things that they do differently stood out to me. For example, when the people greet each other, they touch noses in a sort of embrace. In our culture, I feel that would be extremely uncomfortable. I also really liked Nanny. I enjoyed how she let Koro believe he was the boss, but really she was in more control than he would have imagined. She was a very strong woman. All in all, this was a very good film and I think I would enjoy watching it again sometime.