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Whale Rider | 2003 | PG-13 | - 3.4.3

For a Maori tribe in a small New Zealand coastal village, in every generation for more than 1000 years, a male born to the Chief has assumed leadership. But now the tribe must contend with a female Chief, after her twin brother and heir dies at childbirth, and she must struggle to prove herself. With Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene, Vicky Haughton, Cliff Curtis and Grant Roa. Directed by Niki Caro. [1:45]

SEX/NUDITY 3 - A man lies back on a woman's lap and her arm is draped over his bare chest. A woman hugs a man and kisses him on the cheek. People use the customary Maori greeting of rubbing noses. A man tells his family that his girlfriend is pregnant. A girl makes comments about "childbearing properties." A girl is nude in a bathtub and we see her bare back, shoulders and legs. There are many bare chested men rowing a boat. A woman wears tight tops that reveal cleavage and her ample bosom.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 4 - We see a woman during childbirth, see her pained face, hear her screaming, see her fall unconscious and hear that she and an infant die (we see the dead woman during a ceremony and the dead infant wrapped in blankets a couple of times). We see many beached whales: people struggle to keep them alive by keeping them wet, try to turn one around with ropes but are unable, and one dies. A girl rides on a whale's back, they go under water for a long time, the girl drifts off the whale's back, and we see her unconscious in the hospital. A girl jumps into the sea to look for something, she is under for a long time, a man jumps in to try to find her, and she comes up without a problem. A man yells at and swings at his father. A man hits a boy on the back of the head. Boys jump into the sea to try to retrieve an amulet that is sinking to the bottom (two boys scuffle over it underwater). Boys are taught how to fight with special sticks: during one session a man tells the boys that their enemies must think that they are going to eat them and that their heads will be stuck on the end of a stick. A man grieves over the loss of his wife and child, a woman grieves when she thinks her granddaughter was lost at sea. A girl says that she is not afraid to die. A boy flatulates a couple of times during a school play and a girl is embarrassed. Although not overtly violent, a young girl suffers when her grandfather initially will not acknowledge her and shuns her.


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LANGUAGE 3 - 1 scatological term, 4 anatomical terms (1 mild), 2 mild obscenities.


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SUBSTANCE USE - People are shown smoking and drinking alcohol. One scene shows a man holding a plastic bag and what looks like a pipe and we gather that it is marijuana.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - The Maori culture, ancestry, folklore, father/son relationships, the role of men and women in some cultures, separation from family, respect, disappointment, privilege, obligation, prophets, grief, leaving home, taboos, forgiveness.

MESSAGE - People must work together to move forward.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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