Whale Rider Symbolism

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Niki Caro has used symbolism in her film ‘Whale Rider’, which helps explore themes and ideas in her film. ‘Whale Rider’, set in New Zealand, was released in 2002. The film is about a young girl named Pai, a Maori. Pai’s grandfather, Koro, is the deuteragonist and was the leader of the tribe and wished to pass down the role to Pai’s twin brother, but that did not occur as Pai’s twin brother died, along with their mother during childbirth. The story follows Pai’s struggles, as Koro has to accept her as the first female leader in the tribe. Some of the themes present in the movie are the themes of leadership, tradition, change and acceptance. The three symbols I have chosen that explores themes and ideas are the rope, the whale tooth and the sea. The rope represents the ancestry of the tribe that Pai belongs to, the whale tooth represents leadership, and the sea represents the will of an ancient force.…show more content…
Near the beginning of the film, Koro is seen with Pai on a boat. He uses a rope to try and start the motor. Pai then asks him about where they come from. Koro answers that Paikea, their ancestor, rode on a whale from Hawaii, and compares the rope to the strength of their ancestors. “Each one of those threads is one of your ancestors all joined together and strong” (Koro, Whale Rider, 2002). However, immediately after saying this, the rope breaks. Koro goes to get a new rope to start the motor, but Pai used the broken rope to start the motor. This scene is foreshadowing the conflict that soon comes, as Koro realises that he must chose the next leader. The rope breaks, telling us that tradition will be broken. However, Pai manages to work the motor using the broken ‘tradition’. This tells the viewer her leadership qualities. The rope links the past and present together, foreshadows the plot and tells us which types of themes, such as leadership, will be present in the

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