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Shelby Howard 2018

Hunt for the Widerpeople Essay

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a “magestical” book come to life. It is based on the book, “Wild Pork and Watercress,” written by Barry Crump. The 2016 New Zealand film was written and directed by film director, screenwriter, actor, and comedian, Taika Waititi. The adventure, comedy-drama follows Ricky and Hector, two lonely, closed off people through the New Zealand bush. They are on the run because Child Welfare officer Paula, is trying to take Ricky away to a new home after his adoptive mother, Bella dies. Hector is claimed unsuited to take care of Ricky since his wife died. Hec and Ricky form and unusual father and son bond. In Hunt for the Wilderpeople, the focus on the family as a whole and their vulnerabilities; the short, loving relationship between Ricky and Bella; and Ricky and Hector’s odd relationship shows the viewers that this family is not traditional. However, they love, trust and feel a sense of belonging in one another.


The unique family came together when Bella and Hector adopted Ricky. Ricky was a forgotten kid that no one cared about. His mother did not want him and he did not know his father. He is a reckless kid. According to the Child Welfare Officer, Paula, “Apparently he's a bit of a handful, a real bad egg. We’re talking disobedience, stealing, spitting, running away, throwing rocks, kicking stuff, defacing stuff, burning stuff, loitering and graffiti.” Bella and Hec could not have been anymore unalike. Bella was bright and bubbly while Hector was introverted. The things the three of them had in common was their vulnerabilities. They all had them. Bella’s was that she didn’t have a family growing up and just wanted a child to love and love her back. However, she couldn’t have her own kids because Hector wasn’t able to. Hector was vulnerable about the fact that he could not have kids but he also he had a hard upbringing. Hector was afraid of people knowing he was illiterate. Ricky had many vulnerabilities that showed throughout the film. Ricky feels as if no one loves him. He has trust issues from his instability because of how much he was moved around to different foster homes. But this all changed once he met Hector and Bella.


Bella and Ricky’s relationship was very short. However, this relationship was special. They had a connection. When he first met Bella, she gave him a hug and said something that meant a lot to Ricky. “Ricky, I'm Bella. Uh, you can call me Bella, or Auntie, if you like, even though I'm not your real auntie.” She was proving to him that she did not want to replace his mother or mother figure in his life. By saying this, it make Ricky comfortable. But, she may have immediately eliminated Ricky’s comfortable feelings when she made a fat joke. Ricky walks around the house then he hopped back into the police car. Paula threatened Ricky with the alternative, which was Juvenile Detention and reminded him that, “there is no one else who wants you.” Bella reassured him that, “We’ll make it work.” By being reminded that he was wanted by someone, Ricky thought he may as well give it a go. Another scene that shows their growing relationship is the hot water bottle scene. Ricky is in his new room and Bella is outside in the hallway. She apologizes to him about Hector and starts to tell him about all of the things she put in his room for him. Such as, books, an Indian lamp, a bulldog lamp, some fake cats and “a nice sharp knife to kill monsters in the night.” The final thing Bella left was a hot water bottle in his bed. He felt her love within this hot water bottle. He never had someone that ever cared enough to do such a kind act for him. “I can't imagine what you've been through, boy. You know, I can't imagine it was easy. But you're here now. This is home.” Ricky really opened up to Bella when he talked about his haikus. “This counsellor lady made me do them when I got in trouble. They help me express my feelings.” This is an example of Ricky sharing his vulnerabilities with Bella. Some of his Haikus are personal. Throughout the film, Bella always reassures Ricky that he has a home. So their relationship started off odd but once they got to know each other, they felt comfortable and happy. Just like Ricky and Hec’s relationship.


Hector and Ricky’s relationship had a rough beginning. Hec did not want Ricky in the first place, that was Bella. “Just get this into your head, boy- it was Bella that wanted you here, not me.” Hec had told Ricky. When Bella first introduced Hec to Ricky, it did not turn out well. “Ricky, this is Hec, you can call him uncle if you like.” Hec replied with, “No he can’t.” Their body language and distance showed the hesitance towards each other. When Bella died, Ricky was lost again. The one person that loved him was gone. Therefore, he faked his death and ran into the bush. Hec ended up finding him and they started their crazy journey together. Ricky and Hec started off fighting but then they began to work together. They had taken food, toilet paper, books and other essentials from people and houses. There is a scene where Hec has to kill his dog Zag, because another animal had attacked it. Ricky did not say anything to Hec but he gave him Bella’s ashes. “So, she's been with us the whole time, eh? Thanks for bringing her, mate.” Hector had thanked Ricky. Ricky and Hector had a very special scene together towards the end of the movie. They are at Psycho Sam’s house and Ricky is writing a haiku. He is hesitant about reading the personal poem to Hec but he does. “Trees, birds, rivers, sky. Running with my Uncle Hec. Living forever.” He then tells Hec  that it was dumb. But Hec complimented the haiku and admitted that he liked hearing his name in a poem. Then they go on to talk about how much Bella would have loved the adventure. Ricky asks why they never had kids of their own. Hector says it is because he wasn’t able to. Ricky gets upset and frustrated because he doesn’t think it’s fair that people who want kids, can’t have them and people who can, don’t want them. He uses his mum as an example. Hec suggests to Ricky that his mum was “probably just young” and “couldn’t work out how to raise,” him. Hec admits that he finds Ricky, “pretty likeable.” This was big for Hec to say. He is always protecting his feelings because he doesn’t want to let someone else in his life that he could love. He is afraid of losing someone else important to him. In the end of the film, Ricky betrays Hec by yelling out to the police that Hec  been molesting him. Hec was sent to jail and Ricky lived with his friend Kahu and her family. When Hec and Ricky are reunited they forgave each other and began another adventure.


Hunt for the Wilderpeople is more than an adventure, comedy-drama, it is about family, love, trust and belonging. Hector, Ricky and Bella found those things within each other. Whether it was a scene or something one of them said to comfort the other. Ricky felt love, trust belonging and family when Hec complimented his poem and tells him that he was likeable. Bella’s love made him feel these things when she told him she was “so happy we found you,” and she left the hot water bottle for Ricky. They found strength when sharing their vulnerabilities; from Hec admitting that he was illiterate to Ricky opening up about his haikus. Bella was afraid of not being loved, Hector was afraid of loving and Ricky was afraid of being loved. By sharing their vulnerabilities, they became stronger as individuals and as a family. Ricky, Bella and Hec may not have been your average family but they taught the viewers that this is ok. They loved each other and Ricky was right, “You don’t trade anything for family.”

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