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Once Were Warriors
New Zealand - 1994
Directed by Lee Tamahori


 

This is a revealing tale of an obscure sub-culture, that of the urban Maori, living in Auckland, New Zealand.  Alcoholism, domestic violence, poverty and hopelessness oppress a family that is only kept in tack by the strength of two women.  Beth Hake (Rena Owen), the mother who tolerates the abuse her husband heaps upon her, and her 13 year-old daughter Grace (Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell), who wakes each morning to clean up the mess left from the party the night before.  As Beth Hake struggles to maintain some semblance of family life, she repeatedly threatens to break away from her abusive husband Jake (Temuera Morrison), a tragic alcoholic who flies into violent rages when he's drunk.   As her family disintegrates, Beth remembers her noble Maori roots.  She takes her children and finds safe harbor within her ancestral Maori family.

So much is offered in this film that we chose to view it twice.  There is an incredibly rich filigree of tattooed bodies through which we glimpse what appear to be very honest slices of inner-city life for contemporary Maori and Pacific Island peoples living in Auckland.  The compelling musical score (Murray Grindlay and Murray McNabb) that deftly combines an urban electric sound with traditional Maori music helps bring this film into the realm of the extraordinary.

Once Were Warriors won the Best Foreign Film Award from the Australian Film Institute (1995).  Rena Owen won the awards for Best Actress from the Montreal World Film Festival (1994) and the Festival Award for Best Actress from the San Diego International Film Festival (1994).

Runtime:  99 minutes.


Guest Comments

From:  "Maluku Girl Beilohy Amalutu"

"I have seen the movie for several times, but it never bores or what so ever.
One of the best movies I have ever seen!!!
The actors were very convincing, the emotions came popping out of my mouth and eyes!!!! The acting was more than great!
My compliments to all the actors!!!
After watching this movie you'll have a lot to talk about, not like many movies you just say well great and that's it.
Other thing is that I find the Maori people very interesting and beautiful maybe because of the resemblents they have with the Mollucan people. Mena Muria!!"


From:  "Rune Husa -Norway" 

"The best movie ever, except for one that is. Leon! Although not an action movie, it has some cool bar brawl scenes. really cool. A very good mix of action & drama... Opening scene is pure genious..."


From:  "Jason"  

"Total Greatness...","After seeing this movie only 1 time, it has already climbed to being my #2 favorite movie of all time. I recommend this movie to anyone who likes a movie that just ""GRABS"" your attention throughout the entire movie. I cannot wait until the sequel comes to home video, Temuera Morrison is a very good actor and i believe that he deserves a AAA+ on this one. I hope that anyone seeing this movie for the first time enjoys it as much as I did. It says alot that this movie rates so highly considering all the movies we have here in the U.S."


From:  "Franziska" 

"hey, four years ago I saw that film in New Zealand and it still is one of my favourite movies. It?s very realistic and brutal and when I got outof the cinema I couldn?t talk for more than one hour.  Greetings from germany...."


From:  "Rochelle" 

"As a New Zealander, I am proud this film has done so well. I enjoy watching my favourite actors on the big screen, and even though this movie was brutal, it very certainly was realistic as I know that these type of situations happen in people's   private homes in New Zealand. I think after Once Were Warriors was released, it really opened up a lot of people's eyes to the inside story of domestic violence all over the world, and I'm glad that Lee Tamahori was able to bring such a savage reality to real people whether they saw it at the cinema or on video or television. I am itching to see it again, so I plan to look for it at the local Blockbuster as I am currently not living in New Zealand anymore. Thank you to the team for bringing a candid truth to people's perfect worlds."


From:  "STEPH"  

"The first time I saw this film, I cried. Actually, I cried the second, third and fourth times too. ""Once Were Warriors"" is one of the greatest films to come out of New Zealand - and quite possibly the best social drama ever to be produced internationally.  The sequel, (What becomes of the Broken Hearted"") comes out this month - I hope it's going to be Okay because the book was crap."


From:  "Jen"  

"I am a year 11 Australian Drama student who had to watch this movie to get an idea of Stanislavski's method of realism. This was a perfect example as I truly believed what was going on was real.  It was one of those movies which touches some where inside you,which draws you to watch,even though it's not one of the happiest movies. Congratulations to all the actors involved it truly was a very memorable film.
hey to all the Aussie's!!!!!"


From:  "Rebekah"  

"This has to be one of the best movies ever made in New Zealand.   Rena Owen and Temuera Morrison have to be commended on their performance."


From:  "Cindy"  

"I have seen this movie so many times and yet I never get sick of it. Its one of the most powerful movies I have ever seen. The sequel is just as powerful. Temeura Morrison is my favourite actor of all time."


From:  "Brian L."  

"This movie depicts the Modern clash between Mauri traditions and modern values. It brings out concepts that work on the visceral, emotional, and intellectual levels. This film is memorable and should be watched by anyone and everyone who can."


From:  "lei-lei"

"The first time i saw the movie, i loved it sooo much that i bought the soundtrack too...I watched the movie and i cried... well actually i watched it like 15 times and i cried all 15 times...that movie was great.. i mean there is no word to discribe how much i liked this movie.....I think the actress Rena owens and the actor Temuera morrison can sing really good...i really love the movie....I think everyone should watch it .......it is a great movie..."


From:  "P.J. McCarty"

"An amazingly couragous film that dares to look at what happens to a people when their cultural identity is stripped away from them. Told in a deeply personal way by focusing on one family, this incredable film has some of the best acting ever recorded. If you've ever wondered ""why"" or ""how come"", take a look at this film. You'll walk away with a whole different understanding of what European ""civilization"" has truely done to the various peoples of the world and why it is so important for each of us to be allowed the dignity of our individual heritages."


From:"ngarui miria webster owen"

"this is such a cool as movie my aunyt is such a good actor and i love her."


From:  "Shy-EE -San Francisco"

"this movie is off the hook. Temuera Morrison and Rena Owen make this movie look so real. the older son Julian A. he is so cute. this movie should have won an Oscar. Rena Owen should have won the best actress award world wide for that scene she did when she found her daughter Grace, who hung herself on the tree. Not that many Polynesians are known, this movie put New Zealand on the map. There is no other movie that can top this."


From:  "Nora"

"I caught this film late at night while on vacation. It is phenomenal. American film makers use to produce movies like this in the late 70s, but you do not see this type of raw reality depicted on the screen anymore. The film is so riveting that you find yourself unable to breathe while watching it. There is so much here...... personal desperation, hopelessness, and on a much greater scale the loss of cultural identity that led to it. This is a must see for any serious lover of good films."

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