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“A contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph as a young girl fights to fulfil her destiny”
How does Niki Caro use film techniques to explore Pai’s fight?
Whale Rider is a 2002 film in which Pai, a young girl living in coastal New Zealand fights against her patriarchal community in order to fulfil her destiny of becoming chief. Niki Caro explores her plight by using filmic techniques such as characterisation, visual techniques and plot.
Using the plot, Niki Caro has explored Pai’s fight very well. The main thrust of the story is that Pai, a young girl living in New Zealand, is caught between the desire to be loved by her grandfather, and her grandfather’s rigid cultural laws. Through out the story, we see hints of Pai’s obvious ability to become a leader, such scenes include the one where Koro, Pai’s grandfather, is fixing an outboard motor, with Pai watching. He uses a length of rope as a metaphor for an ancient saying “weave together the threads of Paikea, so that our line remains strong” this is quickly underlined when the rope breaks. While Koro finds another rope, Pai manages to fix the rope and start the motor. This symbolises Pai as the one who can mend Paikea’s line and save their culture from being swept away by the modern world. The plot also helps us understand how everyone feels about Pai, while Koro obviously is the main “antagonist” Pai’s grandmother, is always trying to help her. When Pai is rejected from Koro’s school of traditions, her grandmother said that her second son was a hotshot with a tiaiha, the traditional maori weapon, before he became fat. While not actually suggesting that she go to her uncle for help, it shows us that her grandmother can see what Koro can’t, and is doing her best to help Pai. A way that Niki Caro helps the audience understand Pai’s fight is by having Pai narrate parts of the film, this is an effective way of filling the audience in on the village’s beliefs as well as helping the audience understand...