A Whale of a Ride!
Film Analysis Paper
The film “Whale Rider” took me on a whale of an emotional ride. Though there is a recurrent and overarching feeling of “great-whale-in-the-sea” calm, strength and beauty, there is a strong undercurrent of emotional turmoil, with which each of the main characters struggle.
Each experiences an Eriksonian/Psychosocial crisis:
At 12 years old, the main character, Paikea “Pai,” has successfully navigated through Erikson’s first four stages. She exhibits much industry over inferiority, with more skills and competence than her peers. Riding her bicycle, she passes a bus full of boys, she beats hemi in a taiaha (fighting stick) challenge, she’s always a lead in local cultural performances, and her writing earns her a prestigious award. Pai’s struggle is in the Identity vs. Identity/Role Confusion stage. She wants so much to become the leader that she feels called to be, and is obviously equipped to be, but her father, and Maori tribe tradition, doesn’t allow a female to be chief/leader. She’s torn between her desire to lead, and her Paka’s and tribe’s refusal to allow her to lead. At one point, she nearly leaves for Europe with her father, before being called back to stay on the island by the whales. Pai stays true to her “true” self, and her virtue is fidelity. Grandfather, Koro (a.k.a. Paka), experiences Generativity vs. Stagnation, and Integrity vs. Despair. He’s obviously been very generative in raising Pai to be such an amazing young lady. However, due to his Maori tradition “blinders,” he begins to stagnate, because he won’t allow Pai to continue on her path to leadership. Along with his slide from generativity to stagnation, he moves from integrity to despair, despairing that as much as he wants it, and as hard as he’s working for it, a new Maori leader/chief escapes him. It’s not until the end of the story that Koro breaks free from his “inside-the-box” thinking, stagnation and...
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