“Once Were Warriors” Paper
Lee Tamahori's gritty tale of a troubled society uses many different channels to express its messages. On the surface we see a large family lead by a strong alpha-male. He provides for his family and makes time for social engagements with his friends. But it cannot be that simple for this to be a successful film and we must look deeper into it to find the underlying values.
The story revolves around the Heke family, descendants of Maori warriors. Jake Heke (Temuera Morrison) has created an impact upon society almost through sheer strength. Violence is his first resort if he doesn't get his own way, and everyone refuses to stand up to him due to his fatal temperament. His boozing buddies begin to take up all of his time, and his family fall apart and reform without him as a result of this neglect.
Beth, despite her family’s disapproval, had married Jake and now lives a life disconnected from Western culture and ways of learning. If at anything, Beth is more traditionalized and more so set in the ways of old Maori culture; whereas, Jake is an interpretation of what some Maori have become. Also, the only character interested in education is Grace, who keeps a journal and writes about herself and stories in which she shares with her younger siblings. She does this as a way to escape from her hectic life.
Jake resents Beth for he always felt as if he and his family (and ancestors) were “under” or “below” her since he was born to a class of lowerclassmen and slaves and she chiefs and chiefesses (e.g. royalty). This partially contributes to the behavior he attributes to her and possibly others.
The Heke’s’ troubles expand as Jake is laid off. With no income, Jake and wife Beth Heke (Rena Owen) struggle with son Boogie as he indulges in criminal behavior as a means of self satisfaction, and son Nig joins a violent tribe of Maori warrior replicates to separate himself from this wreck of a family.
Nig cares about his siblings, but...