May 19, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

First ePanui of 2010 out now!

5 min read

“The Potential of BOY”

Boy is the movie I have been waiting over twenty years to see. Described as a heart-felt coming of age tale about heroes, magic and Michael Jackson’, Boy celebrates life in a small Maori community by looking through many eyes and seeing the beauty, pain, passion and potential in all families and ultimately, in all people.

Brief Synopsis

As a sequel to the short film, 2 Cars 1 Night’ (which you can watch in full here on YouTube), Taika Waititi again looks back to our roots and finds a story of longing, of love and of looking toward a better and brighter tomorrow.

In this film, Waititi directs, as well as stars in this poignant story about lead character Alamein Boy’ Ranginui.

After his grandmother has to leave urgently, Boy is left in charge of his tribe of deserted cousins, cooking, cleaning and organising the house like an adult, belying his age of 11 years old.

Right from kick off, we laughed loudly as we follow the weird, quirky and sometimes isolating adventures of Boy (James Rolleston) and Rocky (Te Aho Eketone-Whitu). These two brothers endure school bullying and the absence of parental supervision by dreaming about life, girls, mates and of course Michael Jackson.

We visit the stunningly picturesque Waihau Bay, a beautiful coastal town in Eastern Bay of Plenty, where Boy and Rocky, who is said to have magic powers, share an interesting life with other local kids Dynasty (Moerangi Tihore), Tane (Rajvinder Eria) and Chardonnay (played by RickyLee Waipuka-Russell). We find ourselves laughing at the antics of the children, the jokes and the insults (“No, YOU’RE an egg!!”) and recognise so many of their characteristics in ourselves.

The film powerfully plays on the fact that few adults have a primary role in the movie until dad, Alamein (Taika Waititi) suddenly appears in the dark with his newly formed gang, the Crazy Horses, Juju (Pana Hema Taylor) and Chuppa (Cohen Holloway).

Boy idolises and idealises his father as a champion hunter, fishermen, soldier, carver and rugby player. When Alamein quietly re-enters Boys life, he is seen as a loveable rogue, and though his mission is wild escape and laughs along the path, his search for a lost treasure offers the promise of a better future; one which Boy energetically joins. Rocky, meanwhile, remains detached and a little suspicious.

Some Thoughts on the Film

Although Alamein the Dad is constantly talked about, it is Alamein the Boy who offers the best insight into the complexities of the age, the contradictions of the situation and the innocence of the characters.

The animated daydream sequences beautifully captures how a child imagines, reminding us that this is a story as seen by the children and while it looks to be a Maori Lord of the Flies incarnate, there are references which suggest that while no rule of law exists, the footprints of adults continue to influence the children’s journey ahead.

Slowly we start to wonder who is actually coming-of age’ in this film. Is it Boy, who we see moving from a carefree, high energy, inventive kid into a more thoughtful, forceful young man. Or is it Alamein the Dad who starts as the wise-cracking, street smart rouge who slowly begins to see that which is most important.

The quiet role of the Weird Man (Waihoroi Shortland) brings in the traditional roles of elders, as he saves Boy from almost certain peril. His presence also seems to acknowledge the unseen importance of taniwha (guardian spirits).

Though tradition played a minor role in the film, it is always present.

On Tikanga and Shooting in Waihau Bay

An example of the role of tikanga is evident with the urupa set construction of the which was created especially for the film.

Taika wanted the freedom creatively (and spiritually) to use the urupa as a working set. After the initial construction Taika’s uncles told the crew that they couldn’t shoot there, as the gravestones were not facing the right way.

Although a half day of shooting was lost, in the end the set was rearranged and ended up being amazing. After it was blessed the crew set up and were awed to watch as a flock of starlings flew overhead, circling the urupa before flying out to sea. So we can clearly see that even though the urupa set was created there still existed an underlying tikanga (protocol) that was adhered to.

The crew were based at Taika’s marae, Maru o Hinemaka and were blessed upon their arrival, they shared kai, slept and formed friendships with the mana whenua (local people) and at the end of the shoot even had a poroporoaki, for many it was a completely novel experience.

Production and Crew

The film was produced by Ainsley Gardiner, Cliff Curtis (both of Whenua Films), Emanuel Michael and co-produced by acclaimed filmmaker, lecturer and essayist, Merata Mita. The crew was overwhelmingly Maori too, from drivers, caterers, camera work, graphic artists, grips, hair and makeup, security, first aid and on and on.

Over the coming weeks we’ll bring you interviews with both cast and crew, no doubt you’ll be surprised that you have an auntie, uncle, koro, kuia and/or cousin what worked on the film!

Concluding Thoughts

What starts off as a reunion of the whanau (family) and a strengthening of bonds, slowly turns into the chaos of contradictions and spotlights the loss of innocence. A loss which ultimately results in new beginnings…

What also makes us appreciate this film is that it reflects a part of all our lives, Maori lives, in a way which makes us proud to laugh out loud and at the same time cry softly.

The characters and their relationships are authentic and true to form, the landscapes mirror our social and cultural complexities and the story is one which so many of us have lived.

Growing up, being Maori, getting our arses kicked and laughing a whole lot along the way. The acting of our tamariki is incredible. There is a wicked soundtrack, one that reflects my life and this movie sits alongside films like Ngati, Mauri, King Pin, Mark 2, Once Were Warriors and Whale Rider. We hope there will be a follow up sequel (as the ending seems to suggest) and think this movie, despite some of its more colourful language and references to drinking and drugs, can be watched by children and adults like.

It is a modern-day New Zealand classic, one that is proudly for, by and about Maori. We decided to give the film a 5 out of 5 on our Kamokamo Rating System (KRS) as it had us laughing, made us cry, had us thinking about our own lives, showcased amazing talent in front and behind the camera and showed off our beautiful homelands. Congratulations to Taika, to all the Cast & Crew and we look forward to wider public release (please book me 2 DVDs too please!!)

Boy, premieres on 25 March 2010.

Keep an eye out for updates.

3 thoughts on “First ePanui of 2010 out now!

  1. Kia ora, whanau. I went to see Boy on Good Friday, with my 10 year daughter. We were really looking forward to it, and it was awesomazing! But, the one I thought stole the entire movie, was the younger actor, Te Aho Eketone-Whitu. He underplayed his supporting role, to such an extent, that I lost patience with the selfishness of his father and brother, and hoped his story with wierd man might shine through. But, alas it’s called Boy the movie, not Rocky the movie! Nem mind, maybe next time ay.

  2. Kiaora Potaua raua ko Nikolasa

    Well done on your review. I too was fortunate enough to see the movie on Monday 25th January in Auckland. You capture the mauri of the film perfectly. Absolutely agree with your kamokamo rating system – this film is a 10 out of 5. Finally a film that expresses the diversity of being Maori- that our stories are more than just the travesties of "Once were Warriors" or the sentimentality of "the Whale Rider". That we can laugh at ourselves and find beauty and innocence in our rural communities. For me, the film is a statement about the very state of our communities. We might think that this is harking back to a bygone era- the 1980s. But twenty years on, still, more than half of our children (Maori children) are raised in one parent households. What is the true impact of this appalling state of affairs- poverty, drugs, violence, dysfunctional relationships. But thank goodness, Taika has provided us with hope- children. To see the world through the eyes of young children, we are given a lifeline- the ability to be whimsical and to fantasize that there is a better world- as Micheal Jackson gloriously sang; "we can heal the world". There will be comment on the ending (no I wont spoil it for you) except to say that Taika has left us with the hope that there will be a sequel to this storyline- and one which continues in the same imaginative and talented vein as this feature film. Mauri ora. Katie

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