Once Were Warriors | Chicago Reader

Once Were Warriors

A gritty, powerful first feature by Lee Tamahori, a director with a Maori father and a European mother, adapted by Maori playwright Riwia Brown from a popular novel by Alan Duff. The film focuses on a contemporary Maori family living in urban New Zealand and steeped in violence—the family includes an abusive but passionate father, a volatile but devoted wife, and, among the children, one gang member, one son at reform school, and an intellectually ambitious teenage daughter. Reportedly the original novel is stream of consciousness, switching between family members in the manner of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, and Brown was brought in to tell the story mainly from the viewpoint of the wife. At once upsetting and highly involving, it packs an undeniable punch. With Rena Owen, Temuera Morrison, Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell, and Julian “Sonny” Arahanga.

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