Concepts of Fourth Cinema; ‘BOY’

Selfish Dreamer
6 min readOct 15, 2021

“Boy” (2010) by Taika Waititi is a revolutionary example of forth cinema because it incorporates the majority of the issues that Barry Barclay noted as should be used to describe the indigenous people, especially the Maori. Fourth cinema is used to describe legitimate films that are made by indigenous people, using their concepts, words, settings, and other features that are used to distinctly define them. Taika Waititi’s movie “Boy” is a representation of the fourth film because from the director, settings, some aspects of language, and general aesthetics are all indigenous. Taika Waititi produced, directed and acted in the film while he used actors from his Maori tribe from beginning to the end. The revolutionary success that has been enjoyed by “Boy” supports the ideology of fourth films that they can rival the other movies that emerge from contemporary settings while educating people and highlighting issues that affect indigenous communities.

The introduction of the movie “Boy” starts by giving the viewers a look at the beautiful landscape of New Zealand, and the voyage shows the wonders of the land and natural resources. Through this approach, the viewers are given a different perspective of how the indigenous groups live or what surrounds them before the viewer is taken to the reality on the ground.

The different perspectives that emerge from the introduction part ensure that viewers have an in-depth understanding of what the indigenous groups used to enjoy before being driven out of their lands (Franceschini, 2019). Therefore, as the film progresses, and there are contrasting images that showcase the beautiful landscapes and the secluded settlement areas where the indigenous communities live. Waititi notes that the region in New Zealand, where the film is based in Waihau Bay, in the Ōpōtiki District of the Bay of Plenty. The reference of the indigenous community settings ensures that the viewer is not oblivious to the setting as they can associate it with the information presented on the screen.

Fourth cinema points to the attitude and approach that is embodied in filmmaking by individuals from the indigenous communities who have historical background and knowledge of what it means to their people (Barclay, 2003). An attitude towards indigenous filmmaking by Taika Waititi in “Boy” highlights this point because he ensures that he does not deviate from the main points of fourth cinema irrespective of how the plot was set. In reality, ‘Boy’ was set in an indigenous community, and the producer seems to come into terms with this matter because he does not deviate from the concept that he introduces from the start. Waititi wanted to show how children grow in the settlement looking up to their parents especially the boys, but the emergence of modernization makes it hard. Additionally, the storyline shows that as Alamein and his cousins living with his grandmother and cousins, they have a sense of family hood that binds them. Due to these reasons, ‘Boy’ as a fourth cinema does not run away from the reality that people living in the settlements have social and economic problems.

The actors in the film use indigenous names, and it showcases that Waititi had followed the script of the fourth cinema representation of indigenous communities to the latter. A point of address that Barclays had used in his support for fourth cinema is to do justice to the people and the community while respecting their concerns and customs (Martens, 2012). Therefore, Waititi, as a Maori, ensures that he uses the names of the characters according to how the characters may be named within their community. In this context, the names that are prevalent in the film are Alamein, Rocky, Boy, and a local community gang known as Crazy Horse, which are all pronounced with a Maori accent, and the viewer is able to understand them without struggling. From this understanding, the names are a representation of how the indigenous community coined names depending on the cultural, social, or environmental context under which they were made.

The category of fourth cinema, as noted by Barclay (2003), are not merely supposed to be produced by indigenous people; they are supposed to go deeper into the societal problems that affect the communities. The shared indigenous experience of exclusion in postcolonial settlement schemes and the problems that are part of the indigenous communities are meant to be captured without fear of contradiction. In the film, the abuse of drugs like alcohol and marijuana are evident as some local gang has been involved in the planting of the illegal plant in the settlement. Consequently, the people who farm and sell the drugs are both old and young, which means that the problem starts to get ingrained in the community at a young age. Alcohol and drug-related problems among the indigenous communities are issues that have affected the community as they try to cope with life. Therefore, the Crazy Horses gang, Dallas, and Dynasty’s father are a representation of how indigenous communities try to come into terms of living in a restricted area where they do not have a source of livelihood.

Alamein’s life is a clear representation of the typical indigenous community male who uses illegal means to try and survive, and when bad luck befalls them, they are incarcerated. Most of the indigenous community people are unemployed and the only source of revenue comes from such illegal activities. Therefore, as Boy, Rocky, and his cousins wait for Alamein’s return from prison, it shows a community where the children are left on their own or in the care of their grandparents. The adults seem to run away from the settlement as they search for livelihood in the town, or they engage in criminal behaviors in the settlement as Alamein claims that he had hidden some money in the field when he was taken away by the police. More so, when most of the people are unable to deal with the different life challenges, they result in drinking alcohol. Boy is seen drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana after realizing that the memories or image that he had of his father was a lie. Furthermore, it shows how the indigenous communities deal with absent parents as their children wallow in despair because they have no one to offer them guidance.

The communal story perspective of the “Boy” points to the production and filmmaking approach that Barclay’s advocated. By including Maori features through the Te Ao Maor (set in the Maori world), the communal production highlights how setting the film in a real settlement scheme improves the credibility (Barclay, 2003). Therefore, as Alamein returns to his native community land, the scene enables the viewer to see how the same community had continued to be the same even after years of being incarcerated. Due to these reasons, it points to how the settlements where the Maori lives maintain their naturalness, but it can be proof of stagnation depending on the approach that a viewer looks at it. However, among the indigenous communities, they prefer their settlements to be left as they were allocated postcolonial era to enable them to practice their customs without restrictions. Community-driven Maori stories on the silver screen have started to attract audiences because of their originality and raw recording, where the producers of the films do not try to hide the challenges that face the indigenous communities.

The success of “Boy” shows that the fourth cinema, which captures the communal settings of the indigenous people and the issues that affect them, can be revolutionary. Educating people or outsiders on how the settlements are challenging to the indigenous communities’ showcases why the fourth cinema concept has gained attention around the globe (Barclay, 2003). The revolution comes from basing the storyline and concept of the whole film on indigenous community, and how they live. Subsequently, ‘Boy’ has ensured that they maintain names, accents, and features that show how an indigenous community settlement operates and the type of lifestyle that they are accustomed to. The development of Maori cinema as it has been shown by Taika Waititi can excel beyond the borders of New Zealand as long as the right investment and approaches are used to direct, produce and market to various audiences around the globe. More so, it challenges the upcoming Maori filmmakers to venture into the industry without fear of challenging and educating the masses about their understanding of the indigenous communities.



Selfish Dreamer

Beginner in writing . Multilingual and am working to practice my language and writing skill in multiple languages. Interested in movie critiques & social issues