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Study Guide for Once Were Warriors (1994) Facts 1994, New Zealand, 90 mins Director Lee Tamahori Producer Robin Scholes Director of Photography Stuart Dryburgh Summary A raw, uncompromising working-class drama, Once were Warriors is compelling film-making. This extremely violent, yet deeply moving tale of the Hekes, an alienated Maori family living in an urban New Zealand wasteland, is as powerful as it is disturbing. The film’s tense, gritty, hard-edged, feel perfectly matches the family’s disintegration under the burdens of domestic violence, alcohol abuse, unemployment and poverty. Jake (“the Muss” – for muscle), the father of the family, has an extremely volatile personality and likes to prove his machismo with his fists. Often bearing the brutal brunt of this is Beth, his wife of eighteen years, who, despite their blighted relationship, still loves him. Beth comes from a noble Maori lineage, but abandoned her tribe for her love of Jake, a descendant of intertribal slavery. Althoug...