This video can be simply summed up as an old man reflecting on his life. But it’s oh so much more than that.
People love this video. They love it hard. Looking at online comments, this is a video that homesick expats use to remind them of Aotearoa. It’s a video that reminds people of their absent friends and family. It makes people feel proud to be from New Zealand. One YouTube commenter was so moved that he pasted the haka as tribute.
At the heart of the video is acclaimed actor Wi Kuki Kaa. With most of the video being a close-up on his face, he effortlessly moves through a range of emotions. And here’s the really clever thing – he is subtly moving in time with the music. A twitch of an eyebrow, a quiver of the lip moving with the cut-up beats.
The video begins with the busy preparation of a hangi in the front yard of a villa, set some time in the early 20th century. The camera slowly moves in and we see the old man sitting on the porch. Zooming right into the man’s eye, reflected on his pupil we see memories of his past – courting his sweetie and walking with his grandfather.
Back on the porch, family members come to hongi and chat with him. There are moments of happiness on his face, but there’s still a deep look of a connection with the past. One young women seems to say something harsh that upsets him, bringing tears to his eyes. And seeing an old man cry is such a horrible thing.
But comfort comes with his mokopuna. A grandson leaps up and hugs his koro, bringing a smile to the old man’s face. The camera slowly pans out on the same house but it’s in contemporary times (complete with a loft conversion) and it’s bustling with friend and family, again preparing a hangi.
Chris Graham had directed a few funded videos before, but “Little Things” was the first that went from being just a promo video to a moving creation that still has a deep effect on audiences.
Best bit: the big smoking hangi pit.
Director: Chris Graham
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
Next… waiting for the pizza man.