Whale Rider
Whale Rider (2003)

On the east coast of New Zealand, the Whangara people believe their presence there dates back a thousand years or more to a single ancestor, Paikea, who escaped death when his canoe capsized by riding to shore on the back of a whale. From… More

Directed By:
Rated: PG-13
Running Time:
Release Date: June 6, 2003
DVD Release Date: October 28, 2003
Add Your Rating
Rotten Tomatoes™
Critic Score
User Score

Available Online

Critic Score: 91% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews

Consensus: An empowering and uplifting movie, with a wonderful performance by Castle-Hughes.

Dennis Harvey

Newcomer Castle-Hughes' unaffected, confident turn makes it credible our heroine might retain her determination and self-worth despite serial setbacks.

Eric Harrison
Houston Chronicle

The most effective and moving female empowerment movie in awhile.

James Plath
Family Home Theater

Castle-Hughes' performance is so amazing and she plays off of the veteran Maori actors so well it's hard to believe she was plucked from her classroom when a film crew came by looking for a non-actor....

Full review…
David Ansen

The filmmaker knows how to seduce an audience without making it feel had. When a movie's this likable, it would take a very tough crowd not to be pleased.

Full review…
Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle

[The story] is so simple that the audience gets ahead of it from the beginning.

Full review…
Anton Bitel
Daily Info

both an effective snapshot of the challenges which modernity brings to indigenous cultures, and a neat illustration of the power of myths to adapt.

Full review…
Time Out

Niki Caro roots her characters in a landscape equal parts mundane and boundless, incorporates tantalising sea photography and Lisa's Gerrard's ambient soundtrack, and lifts off into a sublime, Elysian ending.

Full review…
Jay Boyar
Orlando Sentinel

The film is closer to a feminist tract. And, like all propaganda, it wants to do all of your thinking for you.

Nell Minow
Common Sense Media

Excellent to watch and discuss as a family.

Full review…
More reviews for Whale Rider

Flixster Audience Score: 88% Flixster User Reviews
Kevin M. Williams
A poetic look into a different culture that really isn't too different, simply remembering that it was at one time and wanting to hold that memory. A… More
erika bruhns
good plot. I like the fact that they put a really whale in this film.
Jim Hunter
A young girl might fulfill a prophecy in an indigenous New Zealand community. Though the film brims with authenticity, it is almost too authentic. There are… More
Lady D'arbanville
Heard good things about this film and every word of it was true. Great storyline which gives the viewer some kind of insight into the culture and tradition of… More
Robert C
It is not very often that I'm impressed with a child actor. I'm usually just greatful when they don't totally annoy me and/or cheapen the film.… More
Mike S
Quite touching story, set in the ever-beautiful New Zealand, about a young girl and her determined quest to furfil a special destiny. Great acting by Keisha… More