Once Were Warriors Reaction
“Once Were Warriors” is at its core a struggle of a family of domestic violence, tragedy, and identity struggles. Jake Heke, played by Temuera Morrison, profiled as a typical “dead beat” father, cannot hold down a steady job, he is a drunk, angry at the world, and frequently resorts to violence to solve his problems. Yet he still loves his wife and family but does not know how to show it due to how he was raised. Beth Heke, played by Rena Owen, is wife stuck in an abusive marriage to some who you can see that she once loved deeply, but cannot sort out her past feelings for her husband Jake. She truly wants only what is best for her family and for most of the movie believes that it is to try and make her marriage, as her husband is looked down upon her family, of which holds chiefly ties in the Maori tribes. In the end she realizes that leaving her husband is the solution. Although for this to occur some dire and tragic events must first happen. She has one son taken away and put in child services, and her oldest son is absent from the family due to the fact he is trying to replace the relationship he does not get from is in a gang. Grace the oldest daughter commits suicide the day after she is raped by someone who was a close friend of her fathers. Which is what really motivates Beth to leave Jake at the end. With that said I believe that the “Once Were Warriors” is a very powerful effective film not only visually but emotionally.
There are a few things that make this film emotionally effective for me one is the overall intensity and tension felt throughout the film. The biggest and most lingering moment is when Jake in a drunken rage beats up Beth. When I saw this scene I felt like I was at this party and it very much freaked me out and horrified me. On the visual side the makeup used to show next really helped drive that ad bring up the tension. The other thing that adds to emotional aspect is the inclusion of the Maori culture, society, and tradition, and that it is was filmed and set in New Zealand. The reason the location had a huge effect on me is that it removed enough from my world to almost remind me that it does happen in back in the world around me. The inclusion of the Maori culture, society, and tradition really add to film by adding a great juxtaposition of Beth who was very proud of where she came from and Jake who blames his past and where he came from for everything that has gone wrong in his life. Also the inclusion allows for some visual strong scenes like the funeral and how the Haka is used in the film to portray the idea of that Beth and here kids were once warriors.
Overall, this film is well shot and offer truly intense moments, both visually and emotional.