Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Once Were Warriors Essay

Once Were Warriors Essay

Once Were Warriors Directed by Lee Tamahori
Once Were Warriors was shot in 1994. This film is the adaptation of Alan Duff’s famous novel (1990) of the same name. The book and the film are practically similar, they follow one plot line, nevertheless, there are a number of differences. Firstly, in the film we do not find a lot of details concerning Nig’s gang. Secondly, Beth’s role is quite different: in the film Beth is presented as a more passive character, while in book she is a very active person who strives to improve her life all the time. Thirdly, the ending is absolutely different. In the film we see neither Jake’s homeless period, nor Beth’s reunion with the community.


Directed by Lee Tamahori, the film is set in New Zeeland and tells a tragic and terrible story of the Heke family. Rena Owen stars Beth Heke, while Temuera Morrison stars Jake Heke. It is a film about modern problems, such as domestic violence, unemployment, child abuse, poverty and alcoholism. All the members of the family have their own troubles and problems. Jake is the head of family, he is a hard drinker and abuser of his family. Beth is his wife and the representative of the royal tribal line. They have two sons - Boogie (Taungaroa Emile) has problems with the police and can be sentenced to a foster boys’ home, while Nig (Julian Arahanga) is going to join a street tribal gang – and one daughter, Grace (Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell), who is only thirteen but must deal with serious problems. The film ends tragically. In the end, the family’s friend, Uncle Bully, rapes Grace. She writes about this accident in her dairy and commits a suicide. When Beth finds this diary and shows it to Jake, he beats Bully. Beth leaves her husband, who abuses the whole family, and comes back to her own community.

This is a film about a usual family, the members of which are unhappy. All of them can not find their place in this life and that is why they behave in an unpleasant way. Once Were Warriors is a family drama because the members of the family are not able to overcome their own difficulties and problems in order to unite the family.

The performance of the actors is brilliant and the plot will keep you in suspense till the last minute of the film. The ending is so unexpected that you will be left breathtaking. Once Were Warriors touches actual problems of alcoholism, child abuse and unemployment, so it is not just interesting because of the complex plot but also because of its actuality.

From the visual point of view the film is rather professional. “When Jake snaps into uncompromising violence, the brief but effective beatings are superbly filmed and choreographed. D. Michael Horton’s editing slashes back and forth, cross-linking the very different lives of the Heke family members, reinforcing the cumulative sense of their hopelessness” (Francke 46). The music is chosen carefully: the change of scenes is followed by the appropriate music.

The film has won a number of awards: New Zealand Film & Television Awards, Montreal Film Festival, Durban International Film Festival and Rotterdam Film Festival. Once Were Warriors has become one of the most popular films in New Zeeland due to its complex plot and topicality.
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