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Once Were Warriors

Once Were Warriors image
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Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
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Agenda Publications
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Hontrasting sharply with what is considered the usual historie and polite New Zealand film norm, Once Were Warriors is contemporary and controversial. The release of the novel upon which the film is based caused a stir in New Zealand because of its unflinching look at a violent Maori family. This debut film by Lee Tamahori has become a tremendous success in its native New Zealand, the second highest-grossing film in the country's history. Beth Heke is a feisty, beautiful mother of five who. after 18 years of marriage, is still deeply in love with her volatile husband Jake, though she is losing daily battles against the violent forces in and outside her home that desperately threaten to pull her family apart. Although one son has joined a gang and another has been taken by the state to a home for delinquent boys, her beautiful, teenage daughter Grace is still untouched. She is a gifted writer and thinker who embodies Beth's own hopes for a brighter future. Tragically, Grace's special gifts set her apart and make her the most vulnerable. Originally the story of the reckless Jake, the filmmakers decided to switch the focus to Jake's wlfe, Beth. Acclaimed Maori play wright Riwia Brown was brought in to adapt the screenplay from a woman' s point of view. Through the narrative Beth re-evaluates her life as she questions her decisión to stay with Jake, and reconnects with her heritage. Tamahori believes the controversial and stylistically unique nature of the film marks a milestone in New Zealand film history: "People will sit up and talk about it on both sides of the fence. I knowitwillengender controversy." About the Maoris: The Maoris are originally a Polynesian group from the eastem Pacific who carne to New Zealand bef ore and during the 14th centwy. Thejirst European to sight New Zealand was Dutch navigator Abel Janszoon Tasman, but the Maoris refrised to allow htm to land. British captain James Cook explored the New Zealand coasts in the late 1 700s and British sovereignty was proclaimed in 1840. Thus began a period known as the Maori Wars whichjinally ended in 1970 with British victory. Today, native Maoris number about 325,000, roughly 9% of New Zealand' s population. - excerpted from "Angelika Fïlmbür Feb.March 1995


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