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Whale Rider - Film Summary

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OPENING: Whale and sea with music for the credits. Voice over explaining the coming of a new leader cut to birth scene where new leader dies. Close up mother and babys mouth. Fuzzy focus of bed rail. Over shoulder shot from nurse to father.

Koro 1st question: Where is the boy. Tells Pourangi that done is done and to start again (priority of leadership above humanity. Never looked at child (lack of sensitivity). No reaction to child.


Rawiri as child not good for him. Voice over to explain. Bicycle motif way for Koro to be close to P without showing love.


Shape of island same as whale. Establishing shots show sea, houses, hills


Humour smoking jokes


1st shot: whale meeting house. Paikea sings it (whale) see visual representation.


Koro shows authority at concert practice.

Rawiri no leader became fat and slothful

Mother leader behind the scenes and knows her husband.

Koro doesnt read postcards (stubborn)


Voice over Waka Pourangi didnt carve after his wifes death. Left area after confrontation with father waka a symbol of what Koro wanted him to be doing.


Outboard motor scene Koro doesnt answer questions then shows insight and depth when retelling (possibly lack of communication skills but can relate the old tales insight into his interpersonal relationship skills). Rope symbolic of ancestors all joined and intertwined for strength (metaphor repeated at end when all row the waka together strength in unity). Rope breaks symbolic break in leadership. Paikea fixes it could rePaikear line of leadership if allowed but Koro wont accept a girl fixing things (knowing better than an elder/leader) also not rePaikearing leadership.


Koro priviledges and obligations no use to me (priorities, cruel would someone like this make a good leader??)

Blanket motif safety, security,

Paikea sees good in Koro He didnt mean it about me

Koro looking for something that doesnt exist. Needs a prophet, someone who will lead people out of the darkness and make everything all right.

Paikea like my brother/

Koro made himself believe your brother was the leader

Hard on those who cant be what he wants.

Over shoulder shot.


26 Last ride on bike shows Koros softer side although later When she was born thats when things went wrong thats where we will find the answer


30 Music long shots/close ups in car hit the road type music fades into the sea music (one can expect to see whales) whales appear can Paikea see them?? Paikea looks far out to sea


Paikea, Im back Koro shows no pleasure at all as he has another mission now.

Hemi who Koro thinks will be the future leader, is smoking and wants to leave the area. Koro doesnt collect Paikea shows selfishness

Mother refuses to start without Paikea shows strength of women on the marae Paikea leads the boys in as a leader already.


Koro kicks Paikea off the marae showing Elder role

Can relate to boys dick joke

View from whale watching??


40 Koro lacks manners wont apologise and throws things on the floor (ill mannered tyrant way for leader to behave??)

Flowers is boss of the kitchen (behind every great man.)


Sea music then whales (whales are getting closer are the watching and waiting??)

Blanket comfort. Flowers, Let him think he is the boss


Flowers he was beautiful but he was the 2nd son Rules he has to live by. Let him think he is boss but not of me

Taiaha trophy joke

Rawiri Does Koro know? Then lets get on, eh

Wide shot with Rawiri in the middle

Rawiri training on beach why feeling better about himself??


Rawiri and Paikea training / cut to Koro traditional training contrasting new and old ways, formal and informal.

Overshoulder makes audience part of the scene seeing from 2 sides

Ancestors watching too see carving.

Contrast ancestors with Cuzzie Bros ie Hemis dad.

Music rap/ contrast to traditional

Other themes best intentions dont always work, new and old ways want same things but are poles apart.


54 Boat scene Koro dramatic and expecting too much.

Music sea music when in water and water sounds above ie splashing gives contrast.

Slow motion in water and whales always in slow motion- makes timeless like the history and story (set some time no dates)

Bone lost only music no outboard motor noise (silenced).

Koro in own time warp. Koro obsessive?? Belief shattered when dont find the bone necklace. Seaweed slow which emphasizes the timelessness. Music carries on into home- becomes dirgy reflecting Koros mood. broken by the sound of the door lock silence no sound effects.


58 Rug being carried taking Flowers love and protection with her could be the equivalent of a Maori cloak.


59 voice over to explain talking to the Ancient Ones.

Whale on meeting house / cut to island which is whale-shaped.


Birds eye view of people in boat. Voice over in water no music. Koro in depths of despair visual metaphor with water. Rawiri dives in starting to take responsibility. View from water up to boat down to Paikea brings audience there. Music with bone.


104 half open door . Arial shot Koro in total despair (as leader he is not leading but defeated).


Teacups establishing shot. Concert eye level with audience puts the viewer there.


107 Eerie music and concert music contrast

looking up at Paikea giving speech from audiences point of view.


Surf sound, footsteps. Arial view/ close ups.

Longshots to show whales in distance


Paikeas speech Lots of leaders. If knowledge given to everyone then have lots of leaders and soon everyone will be strong and not only those chosen

Overshoulder to audience brings viewer into hall


113 Menacing music turns sad and melancholic. Action shots, whale/water/ people. Close up to Paikeas eye (like whale eye?) can she see something? Voice over Paikeas thoughts.


115 Rawiri leadership (everyone has it in them but sometimes takes a special event to bring it out to give confidence) give comfort meaningful look to waka (symbol of the Anicent Ones and is unfinished being unfinished symbolizes the state of the Iwi without a leader)


Koro given up role


Voice over to explain in depth


Koro They will do it for you meaning Rawiri

Leave it, youve done enough- Koro is belligerent

Water level shots

Breaking rope symbolic of the broken strands of leadership later shows the broken end floating away although they are all pulling together there isnt strong leadership to give them the strength required.

Paikea He wanted to die, no reason for him to live meaning whale or Koro or both??

Floating rope

Crowd scenes shot to be part of the throng

Travel with Paikea on the whale contrast peace and calm sea with chaos and noise above

Boys showing what they have learnt

Koro Which one?? refusing to believe who found the bone stubborn to the end! Sea music


128 over shoulder

Koro accepts he should ask forgiveness redemption? Music shot to whales old and young symbolic of Paikea and Koro eventually the young will take over from the old natural order


White out to clouds (motif?? Reoccurred throughout film)

Waka and sea music

Arial shot

All is a visual metaphor all work together power good leader makes people work together -  all in one boat so have to  pull together!

Koro cuddling Paikea

Repeat of My name is (repeated throughout film gives unity and reinforces the concept.

Not a prophet but I know our people will keep on going forward together with all our strength









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