The International Film Industry is primarily a business that entertains. To be successful it attempts to follow traditional, tried and proven methods; the Hollywood block busters' with known stars, directors and sensational (yet familiar) story lines, perhaps with a new twist. Within the genres' the tools most often used are sex, violence and tension. Unfortunately, this methodology and repetition has developed a Hollywood film culture that perpetuates stereotyping and myths: good triumphs over evil, the happy ending, the rewards of capitalism, the white male hero, the need to be protected female, her vulnerability and sexuality. Wether this is a reflection of societal attitude, desires, fantasy and or that of the film machine itself. Nevertheless, they generate and reinforce stereotypes. This is particularly noticeable in the way woman and ethnic minorities are portrayed in many films and treated in society. .
New Zealand is very much a film going nation and audiences have been bombarded with the Hollywood stereotypes and myths since the early 1950's. This has not only created myths but also reinforced many of the embedded perceptions left from early colonialism. While the New Zealand film industry is relatively new, in terms of film features, it has produced films that have enjoyed national and international success. This success has come from a developing expertise as well as an embracing of the Hollywood formula, along with its embedded stereotypes. Consequently, both Maori and Pakeha directors produce films that are underpinned by myth and stereotype and based from their own cultural experience and perception. This essay examines the way Maori and women are portrayed in NZ film. It discusses wether this portrayal is stereotypical and wether closer to myth or reality. It compares and contrast Once Were Warriors' and Whale Rider . It attempts to use an unbiased perspective as it examines these two films from an historical, contemporary and within a social context.