INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Whale of a Ride

Elaine and others have been making favorable references to “Whale Rider,” the movie from New Zealand currently showing in theatres. Unfortunately, that has to be amended to “some theatres” – mostly art houses. The distribution is very limited. What’s the deal? The marketing geniuses figure that the public will be turned off by the New Zealand accents? Or by the absence of sex and violence?

Anyway, I decided to check it out. Now I know what the bloggers and the critics are raving about. This movie has everything going for it: mythology, social relevance, gripping story, emotion, beautiful scenery, and great acting—especially the young girl who’s the heroine of the piece.

I hate it when cinematic gems like this--which are not esoteric and have the possibility of broad appeal--get shuffled off to a few “art houses” in big cities and college towns. Every once in a while, one of them will gain enough word of mouth to embolden the distributors to bring it into mass exhibition, where it ultimately becomes a hit and garners some Oscars. Two examples of this phenomenon are “My Left Foot” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

May the same fate be in store for “Whale Rider.”


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