top of page

Edie Nicolson 2018

Hunt for the Wilderpeople Essay

In his 2016 film, ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’, director Taika Waititi uses a variety of film devices and other techniques to portray growth and development of characters when placed in stressful circumstances. Through Waititi’s use of colour scheme, camera techniques and sound he produces an engaging film that follows the evolving relationship between a young boy and his foster-dad lost in the bush following an unforeseen challenge. Initially these protagonists are closed-off and cold, however, throughout the film ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’, they are pushed into a dynamic relationship by the recent loss of a close family member. This event leads each character to develop whilst becoming reliant on and making human connections with each other and eventually evolving into well-rounded individuals.


During Waititi’s film, ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’, colour scheme is used regularly to express mood and provide symbolism for different objects, places, or scenes. This is extremely prevalent during the first part of the film, where colour scheme is used to show the comfort and love of the farm. For example, in Ricky’s room, there is a warm, yellow-toned light which creates a warm and safe atmosphere when reflected off of the soft pink walls. This assures the viewer that this is a safe and calm space, in addition to providing a home-like atmosphere. An atmosphere such as this one is essential when expressing the calm and belonging emotions felt by Ricky, who, before this had not resided in a house that truly felt like a home. Additionally, colour scheme is used to express the development and overall mood of a character, as is shown in the barn scene and the dog scene. In the dog scene, the viewer is shown Ricky running through the hills with Tupac, his dog, when analysed, it can be deduced that Ricky’s attire, including a yellow jumper and jeans, which creates a juxta-position between his usual ‘gangster’ or untrusting previous outfits, and is symbolic of his joyful mood during this scene. Furthermore, in the barn scene, we see Ricky burning a fake version of himself in order to fake his own death. Although this scene is symbolic of Ricky wanting to disappear and run away from himself and his problems, the outfit that this fake Ricky is wearing is also symbolic due to its colour scheme. The fake Ricky is wearing the same yellow jumper that Ricky is seen wearing in the dog scene, the very fact that Ricky chose this jumper shows that ‘happy Ricky’ or ‘old Ricky’ is dead, and expresses Ricky’s emotions at that time which are ones of sadness and anger. Filming techniques are also used to express a variety of emotions.


Filming techniques are also an integral part of this film, as they are used to convey different emotions and symbols. This is shown in the first scene, when a camera pans over vast bushland before focusing on a road on which a car is travelling. This scene is our first introduction to Ricky, who is inside the car, and our immediate impression of him is one of isolation and desperate loneliness due to his setting which appears to be devoid of people and to have no end in sight. This isolation is also conveyed through the use of sound, as drums are heard beneath an almost tribal like choir singing which invokes thoughts of ancient tribes and civilisations, ultimately establishing an isolated atmosphere whilst symbolising a spiritual connection with nature and the bush which becomes relevant to main characters as the film progresses. Camera techniques are also used to express the relationship between characters as is shown through the character Paula, a child protection officer. In many scenes where we see her talking or engaging with Ricky, the scene is shot from a low angle, giving the impression that Paula is more powerful and threatening than Ricky.


An additional use of filming techniques is to convey the transformation of differing characters due to their experiences, in this case becoming stuck in the bush and losing Bella, Ricky’s foster mother and Hectors wife. Initially, Hector is portrayed as a tough and closed-off man, as is shown through our first introduction to him. In this scene, the camera shows a medium shot of a hill, as dead boar emerges from the opposite side, quickly followed by Hector who appears to be carrying the boar. This leads the viewer to believe that Hector is a tough man who has the physical strength to kill and then carry and boar without sustaining injuries. A juxta-position is created when we later see Hector during Bella’s death scene, as a point of view shot shows him crouched next to her body sobbing, appearing a soft and broken man, which is how Ricky sees him during this scene. This juxta-pose is essential in understanding the following development of their relationship, which is also shown through Hectors changing wardrobe. An example of this is in the final stretch of film, when Hector and Ricky are hiding from the police, and are seen wearing the same patterned flannel in differing colours. This is symbolic of Hectors final acceptance of Ricky as a son, and their fully formed, healthy, father-son relationship.


Through Waititi’s masterful use of camera movement, colour scheme and sound, he expresses the emotions and relationships between characters, captivates audience members, and shows the development of differing characters due to challenging circumstances. This use enables Waititi to create a thrilling film that enthrals people of all ages and keeps them on the edge of their seat, ultimately creating a stellar film.

bottom of page