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Once were soldiers

            The film "Once Were Warriors" deals with the breakdown of a family. Discuss how each member of the family reacts.
             The film, "Once Were Warriors" is a deeply moving story about Jake and Beth Heke and their five children - a family in crisis. Although the story takes place in New Zealand, and the characters portray an urban Maori native family, many of the scenarios, situations and characteristics that are presented in the film are similar to our own country and culture. Almost each theme has its opposite relevant in the film. Such as love/hate and life/death which are two that are present throughout the film. Each of the characters deals differently with the difficult time their family is facing. The father turns to alcohol, the eldest son turns to his culture and joins a gang, the middle son turns to crime which in turn brings him to culture, and Grace, who deals with it the worst, eventually finds suicide as her only way out. While all this occurs, Beth, the mother tries to pull her family together, and can only do so using her tradition, cultural background and a bundle of strength. .
             The plot, with its stark images, seems to be based on duality: illusion and reality, love and hate, courage and fear, power and powerless, past and present, strong and weak, hope and despair, drunkenness and sobriety, slavery and freedom, and finally: life and death. The opening scene introduces this, it begins with a placid scene of a beautiful mountain lake, and green hills beyond. Pure timeless serenity with music befitting thescene. But soon, the camera pulls back, pans left and we begin to hear traffic and the din of city life. The music changes to heavy-metal guitar, grating the nerves. As the camera perception changes, we realize that the serenity we felt was merely the image on an expressway billboard. The reality is that of roaring traffic, surrounded by industry, ghetto and despair. .
             The one aspect of duality that is not portrayed in the film and left up to the viewer to determine, is the idea of right and wrong.

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