Free Essay with a Critical Analysis of The Once Were Warriors Movie

Published: 2019-12-13 15:13:09
Free Essay with a Critical Analysis of The Once Were Warriors Movie
Categories: Movie Ethnography
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1160 words
10 min read

The aim of this critical analysis paper is to critically analyze a movie called Once Were Warriors. The setting of this film is in the New Zealand, in urban Auckland. The film is directed by Lee Tamahori and produced by Robin Scholes. The main actors of the film include Rena Owen (as Beth Heke), Temuera Morrison (as Jake Heke), Taungaroa Emile (as Boogie Heke), Rachael Morris Jr (as Plooy Heke), Joseph Kairau (as Huata Heke) amongst others. The Once Were Warriors film released on February 24 1995 is about a story of the Heke family.

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Beth and Jake Heke are wife and husband belonging to Maori descendants living in one slum in Auckland. Although the two are married and love each other intimately, Jakes addiction to alcohol has caused some social instability to the family a situation that has left their children emotionally scared. Prior to their marriage, Beth Heke violates her parents wish of marrying Jake and gets married to him without the approval of her parents. The couple was blessed with five children. Grace, the couples eldest daughter recorded all the events and stories that took place between her parents to tell to her younger siblings when they will come of age.

The film presents Jake being dismissed by his employer thus spending much of his time drink alcohol at the local bar and restaurant with friends. Once drunken, Jake resolved to sing songs and violent actions by beating any person he considered stepping into his personal welfare. At times, Jake could invite a group of friends from the pub into his house for drinking parties. In most cases during these drinking parties, Jake could fall out with his wife resulting in brutal attacks in the presence of their friends. Due to the influence of her husband and friends, Beth resorted to drinking as well, especially when things seemed to go wrong with her. Whenever the couple was drunk, they could fight leading to bloodshed in their house.

Nig, the couples elder son was angered whenever his father beat the mother making him despise his father and walk away to join a gang group. As a gangster, he was brutally beaten by other gang members. Mark, second son, has a record of small criminal offenses that landed him in a foster home. The film portrays Grace with a passion for writing and reading stories. Unfortunately, she was raped by one of her fathers drunken friends, Uncle Bully. This instance, made Grace to hang herself from a tree branch within the compound. The film gives details of Graces burial while her father is busy drinking with his friends in the pub. On realizing the reasons for her daughters suicide, Jake turns to his friend, Uncle Bully and brutally beats him using glass bottle.

The happenings on the screen to the films overall context is a clear illustration of the producers ability to explicitly unearth the vices taking place in the society such as wife battering, alcoholism and raping of minors in the case of Grace, a teenager only 13-years old. Unfortunately, Grace was raped by one of the close associates of his father who later blamed her for her turning him on through her skimmy little night attire. Although Jake does not take any action against Uncle Bully due to his alcoholism behavior that drew him from his responsibilities as a father and husband, he later brutal dealt with Uncle Bully after Graces death. In this context, the artistic skills of the producer are manifest in illustrating the devastating effects of alcohol consumption that has the potential of making one shy away from his immediate responsibility such as providing for and protecting his family members. The producer of the movie on the hand has successfully presented Jake and Beth in good and bad times as they go about their daily lives. In one instance, the film depicts the couple flirting, singing and making love. The film shows Jake as one who is not emotionally stable as he can momentarily change within a flash of a second into brutal on his wife causing her bloody masses of bruises on her face. The current alcoholism and violent behavior of Jake has made his wife Beth not to blame herself whenever she was beaten.

The producer of this film has achieved much in addressing daily life in the modern day neighborhood and household in the films historical context with respect to audience, critical reception, political and social conditions in our societies. The film focuses on a wide theme by painting the true picture of the full style of life that comprises of both bad and good times. For instance the instance where Jakes family in high and good spirits set out for a picnic in a rent car and unfortunately from nowhere, Jake stops the car only to drink has been described as the saddest scene in the social family set up. Amid the several social injustices the family members undergo especially the female, Grace represents a ray of hope and optimism for the socially mistreated members of our society during the darkest days of their lives. The Once Were Warriors movie has received recognition as it attacks and discourages domestic violence and abuse on any member of the family and society. The film further shows the audience the negative impacts of alcohol consumption as this tends to cause personality changes such as wife battering in the case of Jake and Beth and suicidal and criminal behaviors on their children.

The main characters (Jakes friends) in the film indulge in drinking activities most of the time without devoting their efforts to economic activities. These men are seen drinking throughout the film either in the pub or in Jakes home. The drinking habit of these men whom the society considered as breadwinners for their families is responsible for the economic challenges facing their families as children are left to work out things on their own. The producer aims at highlighting the challenges of alcoholism in the society towards its economic growth. The attack on the social vices by the producer of the movie had made the move to gain recognition and funding from international bodies fighting these behaviors in the society. Technology on the other hand has played a significant role in educating the society on the negative effects of alcoholism, rape and domestic violence. Thus, through technology, the movie has reached and educated millions globally on the negative effects of alcoholism by emphasizing on the importance of living together in love for wife and husband which should trickle down to young children in the families.


Hokowhitu, Brendan and Vijay Devados. The Fourth Eye: Maori in Aotearoa New Zealand. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013.

Smith Jo, The Cultural Politics of Once were Warriors, Cultural Politics, Volume 5(2), July 2009, pp. 265-269; Duke University Publisher.

Wilson, Pamela and Michelle Stewart. Global indigenous media: culture, poetics and politics, 2008, Durham: Duke University Press.

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