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Yolngu Boy, Whale Rider



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    Culture is the characteristics of a particular group of people, defined by language, religion, social habits, traditions, stories and music. “A nations culture resides in the heart and soul of its people”- Mahatma Gandi and this culture is kept alive by what they do. The texts we have studied in class “Yolngu Boy” and “Whale Rider” are excellent examples of how important cultural identity and belief are in communities.

    The other text that I have studied “Bran Nue Dae” is also a good example of this. In this essay I am going to be talking about what the texts have taught me about culture and how it has shaped my understanding.Yolngu Boy is about three boys- Lorrpu, Botj and Milika who are trying to find out who they are and what they want in life. As children they had dreamt of becoming great hunters together but as teenagers they changed.

    Yolngu Boy is about aboriginal culture and has many examples of it throughout the movie. The first cultural thing we see is one of the boys’ ceremonies that it flashes back to that shows us that as a child you had to have an initiation to be a member of the tribe. As teenagers they have to prove to the tribal leader Dawu, that they are ready for the ceremony.In the Yolngu tribe, moving the canoe that was placed in the bush for the crocodile spirit, is considered bad luck and the boys didn’t want to move it but they knew it was the only way to get to Darwin.

    Another example of aboriginal culture is rope making. It takes three people to make a strong rope and rope making was taught to them by their grandfather when they were younger. On the way to Darwin, the boys sing storylines because in aboriginal culture if you sing about the land it will help you find your way. Over the journey they hunted many times and painted their bodies in a traditional way.

    When they hunted the music was always traditional aboriginal music to signify their culture and their bond with the land. They have great respect for animals because when they ate the turtle they put the bones on the fire and they let the crocodiles go. All these things helped shape my understanding of aboriginal beliefs, ceremonies, the bond they have with the land and how they hunt. Whale Rider is a film about a girl, Paikea who is next in line to be the chief of her tribe but is limited by the traditions of her culture.

    Whale Rider has many examples of Maori culture and how it is different to our culture. Maori culture is very male dominated because they feel that only men have the ability to lead a tribe and be a successor because it has been that way for thousands of years and many people including Pai’s grandfather Koro, want it to stay this way even if the next in line is a girl. Koro is blinded by prejudice and refuses to believe that pai is the heir but by the end of the film, after Pai leads the pod of whales back out to sea and finds the rei puta (whale tooth) which makes Koro realise that Pai is the true leader

    Yolngu Boy, Whale Rider. (2017, May 23). Retrieved from

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