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Once Were Warriors Essay Questions

Lee Tamahori's Once Were Warriors Essay

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Lee Tamahori’s Once Were Warriors

Filmic technique plays a vital role in the way an audience looks at a character or society in a whole. Lee Tamahori’s film “Once were warriors” uses filmic technique in the crafting of the characters, the roles they adopt and the society they live in. Filmic Technique helps to exhibit the Heke family as trapped in society, with a vicious cycle of alcohol, violence, male domination, unemployment and pointless parties. In order to try and free themselves from the vicious cycle or to just find peace and happiness; each character has a way of escaping the harsh reality of the society they live in. The choice to escape is theirs, and the route they take can be looked at as either real or fantasy.…show more content…

As the camera moves to the traffic below, in the industrial setting, the audience if forced to realise that the beautiful surrounds they had seen before was merely a highway billboard. That moment of serenity is the perhaps the last, until the end of the film.

‘Once were warriors’ focuses on the unsettling downfall of an urban family trapped in society, violence and alcoholism. The Heke family is portrayed as being, yet another family stuck in a rut, society. Where the male is the protector and spends all day in the pub, getting drunk. Wife beating, although brutal, is expected, especially if the woman has a problem with keeping her mouth shut.

Filmic technique plays a large role in the first scene as it emphasises on the differences between what the world would look like in a perfect world and what it looks like in reality. The billboard symbolises the world outside the horizons of the industrial city. It suggests to the audience that they are no longer in the beautiful lands of New Zealand, but the slums.

As the camera pans and presents the audience with a panoramic view of society we observe the groups which have formed and see them in their own habitat. Much like animals this society tends to stick with their own kind, and form groups for support and strength. We see the muscle men, bulking up and pumping iron, focusing on their physical strength, for some form of identification, the reggae influenced youth,

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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.


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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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