The narrative has some personal meaning for me because I spent many evenings as a child waiting for grownups to finish their business. The dark world of adults is a mysterious place for youngsters. It’s also quite dull. You create your entertainment, devise games, pick on each other, and pass the time, which can be hours long. Children learn to make their own experiences whenever they meet their peers, plan out fun things to do such as playing football or skating, however, the ways of the adults will always be a mystery for the kids.
When confronted with adversity, we are wired to seek out the light, the warmth, and the beauty in life. I wanted to portray this tone, this sensation, in the film. A recollection of a single short moment of beauty, happiness, or love lasts longer than a lifetime of sadness. This brief but memorable encounter is like a flower amid a field of coal: little but lovely, it sticks out and leaves an indelible memory. The children’s meeting offers an opportunity to try something new. Like a seed, love, or simply human interaction seeks the soil to thrive in. It takes root at times and doesn’t at others, but it always has the potential to produce something great. That is the nature of existence.
I feel it is critical for the audience to understand that the film is not being used to vilify grownups or make generalizations about rural living. I feel the film demonstrates how human touch can generate something extraordinary in a less-than-ideal setting. According to Bettie and Ellis (2004), to convey information effectively, people must organize their ideas and disseminate them in an easily attainable manner by transferring the information in a way that will capture the recipient’s attention. “Will these two Maori children ever meet again?” the audience wonders when the adults return after their night of drinking. We may also see that young Romeo creates Maori-to-Maori connections not only across gender lines within his generation but also beyond generational lines of men if we change our critical focus to indicators of extra ties that arise in the film. An adult on a bicycle stops in the parking lot early in the film and welcomes the waiting children in Maori (Allen, 2012). When the elder exits, Romeo acknowledges the old man with a knowing tilt of his brow and waves as Polly rolls up her car window. Later, an adult male with a complete face tattoo drives a car across the parking lot and shares a knowing look with Romeo. Finally, when Polly’s “oldies” return to their automobile, Romeo raises his brow and lifts his head to recognize her father.
The producer uses humor in the story as Romeo’s brother, Eddie, adds a vital comedy aspect in the picture, despite being a relatively small character. Throughout the film, Eddie sits in the passenger seat of his parent’s car, bending his head to a paperback book open on his lap, reading in the dim light of the parking lot as the drama between Romeo and Polly develops. Eddie says only a few words of brief speech to undercut Romeo’s bluster when he jokingly lies to Polly that he is sixteen instead of nine and when he echoes Romeo’s gloating that will grow into a successful attorney because he is one of the brainy gays. However, Eddie reprimands the chatty Romeo, “Shut up, guy, I’m reading,” without looking up from his book. The specifics of Romeo’s bragging about Eddie’s sexual orientation situate both brothers, but Eddie in particular, within a sense of dominant culture’s transnational flows.
I find the film intriguing because the producer brings out the clash between the indigenous Maori culture and modern culture while also appreciating the connections between these cultures. The specific elements of Romeo’s boasting that Eddie is “brainy,” a reader who will go on to become a brilliant attorney, then complicate this global popular culture consciousness to include an understanding of colonized Indigenous peoples other than New Zealand Maori. Despite Romeo’s seeming lack of comprehension, Eddie’s brief rejoinder, “Crazy Horse,” implies a Maori-to-American Indian relationship. However, we might move our critical focus even further to look for traces of Indigenous-to-Indigenous relationships in the film (Allen, 2007). These clues indicate more overtly political pronouncements regarding the three children’s prospective Maori destinies.
This film enjoys international fame because it offers a distinct perspective on how children learn on their own in the absence of their adults. I find it intriguing because the producer effectively drew illustrations from real-life experiences to bring out the transition from indigenous cultures with the advent of modern ways of living. The story is set in a pub where the producer has known since his childhood making the story factual while giving it some sense of originality.
Allen, C. (2007). Rere Kē/Moving Differently: Indigenizing Methodologies for Comparative Indigenous Literary Studies. Studies in American Indian Literatures, 19(4), 1-26.
Allen, C. (2012). A transnational Native American studies? Why not studies that are trans-indigenous?. Journal of Transnational American Studies, 4(1).
Beattie, G. & Ellis, A. (2014). The psychology of language and communication.
London: Psychology Press.