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The Rite of the Shaman is a very inspiring family-friendly film by Alicia Oberle Farmer. Here, she expands the role of what this role means and shows how it’s not restricted to specific cultures. Some people tend to think of them as an aboriginal thing whereas it’s not. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Adrenalin’s song “The Road of the Gypsy” while watching, and that’s because the themes are very similar.
According to Shamism.com, the title bestowed to those individuals also grants them knowledge in how to heal more than just battle wounds, but also enact spiritual contact. These days, it’s considered to be an ancient healing tradition. And what the protagonist in this film experiences (wonderfully played by Tyrell Oberle) is an awakening as he navigates the trials and tribulations of teenage life.
Kai is being bullied and also seeing things. There’s a voice calling to him. One reason he’s not doing well is that he’s worried about his mother, Rebekah (Janice Spencer-Wise). She’s suffering from cancer, and with no one to turn to for help, he’s alone. He’s an only child. The orchestral score wonderfully carries this work and gives us that emotional resonance to understand this boy’s plight. Props go to Donovan Colton for a delightful soundtrack; it includes everything I adore which includes flights of fancy from the likes of Enya and Yanni.
Thankfully, a guardian spirit–his grandfather (who also narrates Rite of the Shaman)–that’s teaching him the ways of the Shaman through some very powerful visions. The Nordic inspiration is briefly mentioned during the introduction, and it’s one of those if you’re not paying attention moments, that reference is easily missed. That’s because the later parts of the film show a vision quest where we see people in white robes–which some may connect to a traditional Druidic tradition. To be fair, I feel it’s better not to overthink the cross-cultural connections, because when we hear Éiníní, an Irish folk lullaby, the meaning is unclear. As for the significance of the owl, the Norse believes it’s a symbol of luck and protection.
Until Kai finds inner peace, he can’t preach what he cares for the most. This conflict is nicely explored in this brisk tale, and just how he frees himself from his depressed life is inspiring. That’s when this motion picture’s magic comes alive. I loved how this teen finally learns how to break down those barriers of pain which has held him back. Although his journey is not over, there’s still the matter of graduating. In the film, we see he’s skipped school.
Although this film has no Japanese connection, all I have to say in conclusion is, “Gambatte, Kai-san, Gambatte.” That last hurdle isn’t that hard to accomplish, and what we learn from him without spoiling can get us all to cheer.
4 Stars out of 5