Professor David Burrill
11 March 2013
The 2002 movie Whale Rider tells a story of a young woman named Paikea growing up in patriarchal society known as the Maori tribe. Pai, short for Paikea, spends her life trying to get her grandfather to accept her. When she was born, her twin brother died at birth, leaving the grandfather’s dreams shattered. He needed a male so he can grow up to be chief. The chief will be known as the Whale Rider and he was supposed to bring the village to greatness. Unfortunately, after the death of her twin brother, Pai is forced to gain her grandfather’s love and acceptance. She attempts to learn what the young men have to learn such as fighting, but with every attempt, her grandfather grows angrier. Pai even tells her grandfather that he is “the guest of honor” at her play, he does not show up. It isn’t until Pai manages to save a group of stranded whales that her grandfather accepts her. This remarkable movie depicts a strong leading female role that is courageous and continues to try until she succeeds. The use of Mise-en-scène, voice over, and framing creates a dynamic narrative for the movie Whale Rider. Mise-en-scèneis French for “staging or putting on an action or scene”, which means design and composition are the main aspects of it. Lighting is important for a dramatic movie like Whale Rider because it sets the mood.