Once Were Warriors / L’Âme des guerriers

(Fiction, New Zealand, 1995, 103', C, Fr ST)

by Lee Tamahori

with Rena Owen, Pete Smith, Calvin Tuteao

Once Were Warriors


Jake and Beth Heke’s family lives in a poor suburb of Auckland, New Zealand. The loss of his job has made Jake a brutal alcoholic. He scares his five children and his wife, a proud Maori descendant, opposes his outbursts. But the family’s unity is soon to be shattered in an escalation of violence from which no one will escape unscathed.


« The historical and cultural contexts driving Once Were Warriors ensure its status as vital anti-colonialist cinema, though the central narrative has the makings of a familiar social drama. Tamahori’s treatment blends a gritty and confronting piece of reality with a need to raise awareness about a marginalized culture. He places the viewer in the middle of scenes filled with intoxicated energy, highs of initially infectious male-bonding and song-singing, which at any moment can, and often do, flip like a switch into disturbingly violent posturing and beatings. » Brian Eggert, deepfocusreview.com

Film Author :

Lee Tamahori
Lee Tamahori

Born to a Maori father and a European mother, New Zealander Lee Tamahori began his film career as a boom operator in 1978, before becoming first assistant director in 1982. He went on to direct commercials, many of which won awards at festivals such as Mobius (USA), Facts (Australia) and Axis (New Zealand). He made his first short film Thunderbox in 1989, but it was his first feature film Once Were Warriors that propelled him to worldwide fame, winning some twenty awards at various international festivals. He then began a career in Hollywood, directing Men in the Shadows (1995), Knives in the Wind (1997), The Mask of the Spider (2001), as well as the twentieth instalment of the James Bond saga Die Another Day in 2002, and The Devil’s Double, a plunge into the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, in 2011.

Other movies: Open World

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