Sunday, December 09, 2007

Once Were Warriors

Once were warriors is a film based on the novel of the same name written by Alan Duff. It was directed by Lee Tamahori in 1994. The movie depicts the everyday life of the Hekes, a poor Maori family. While Jack “the muss” gets drunk with his friends and often ends up fighting in several pubs, his wife Beth tries to feed their five children with what Jack leaves her. When she dares to complain, she is beaten by her husband. The two oldest sons are delinquents: Nig, who dislikes his father, is a member of the Toa gang and Boogy has been sent to a borstal by the judge. When their daughter Grace hangs herself after having been raped by one of her father’s friends, Beth realizes that she must change her way of living and decides to leave Jack.

Once were warriors also portrays several aspects of the Maori culture, a native population who came to New Zealand from the 8th century onwards. Nowadays they represent 10% of the population in New Zealand, which had been colonized by the British mostly. In the movie we can see that the Maori culture was influenced by this period of colonization. A first aspect is that they became Christian without abandoning their rites. This is illustrated by Grace’s funeral which is a mix of Maori and Christian tradition, performing the Haka dance during the Christian ceremony for instance.



A second aspect is that many people left their village to adopt the European way of life in the cities which lead them to poverty and alcoholism among other things. In the film the Heke family live poorly in the suburbs of a town. Their misery drove them to alcoholism, a third aspect which is very present in the movie when Jack and Beth get drunk at home with friends.



We can also see the violent aspect of the Maori culture. In fact they were already fierce and proud warriors and became even more violent by learning new war techniques from the Europeans. With regards to the film, there are a lot of fights, violent scenes and performances of the Haka.



Once were warriors is one of the only movies showing the real social status of the Maori that achieved such success. It won several prizes such as best film at the New Zealand Film & Television Awards, the Durban International Film Festival, the Montreal Film Festival and the Rotterdam Film Festival. Thanks to this worldwide success, people got interested in the Maori culture. The movie therefore became an icon of this antipodean culture.
We strongly recommend you this great movie, but don’t expect a good laugh but rather a good cry!

Hélène Vancompernolle and Martin Cugnon

12 comments:

Simon Lab@ said...

Hey, Jango Fett is back!!! (But wait, where's his jet pack?)

Martin Cugnon said...

I knew it was the first thing a Star Wars addicted like you would spot.
But we all know you don't like jet packs, you prefer the lift (if well accompanied of course).

Anyway for the ones who would wish to see more, the whole movie (Once Were Warriors) is on Youtube in 10 parts.

Simon Lab@ said...

Shhh! Don't mention the lift! (Then, why the hell am I mentioning it again?)

Martin Cugnon said...

You said it again! I said it! Oh, I said it again ...
It makes me think of the famous Knights who say "Ni".

pierre-yves said...

the Lift and Ni episodes... both very enjoyable, they were! :)
Simon: "Mmh, I'll be right back" rofl

Simon Lab@ said...

Private jokes, huh?

I think that a lot of people who read these comments feel a little bit confused, for they don't know what the heck we're talking about…

That's a bit like when a teacher cracks up an obscure joke and no one laughs… (Don't you think, Messrs Romero and Vandelanotte?)

pierre-yves said...

I agree! In the first case it would be because they were absent and in the second bc most of us are absent...minded! :-)

Lieven Vandelanotte said...

Oh, to feel misunderstood defines my very being! ;)

Simon Lab@ said...

Ah! So that is the reason why you chose to teach English grammar! I would have opted for philosophy instead… ;-)

I know how it feels when you have to explain to everyone why I'm laughing, because they didn't get the joke or the (obscure) reference…

During Mr Romero's classes, Martin and I often refer to what is said on this blog (and especially the comments), but as no one except from us reads them, so that we are only three to have fun…

Hence the nickname you gave us: "the two Muppets" (I suppose you're referring to the grumpy Statler and Waldorf, aren't you? If so, who is who?).

Martin Cugnon said...

Well Simon, let's just decide who's who. Would you mind to play Statler and I would do Waldorf. The trouble is that we'll have to behave like them at the end of some lessons. We'll be even more silly... ha ha ha (diabolical laughter).
By the way, was the oral presentation about Once Were Warriors acceptable? Taking into account that some sitting at the first row chatted all the time and disturbed the presentation ;)

Lieven Vandelanotte said...

I was just getting my own back... serves you right for mumbling all through my lessons :)

Simon Lab@ said...

Ok, I'll go for Statler and you for Waldorf. I'll post something about them for Christmas on this blog. Still have to write it but I will. And oh yeah, do you remember that we found another Muppet nickname for someone else? Or shall I keep it a secret? (Then again, why the hell am I mentioning that fact??)

You presentation was great, dispite a great disturbance in the front row… We'll get revenge, too! I'm looking forward to the general linguistics course (I know I'm crazy)!

What's more, I especially liked our joke on "existential"… Perhaps we can recycle it someday.