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Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931)

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In one island of Bora Bora lagoon, a young fisherman, Matahi, is in love with Reri. But she is chosen to be the holy maid and therefore becomes "tabu". They ran away from that tradition. ... See full summary »



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Title: Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931)

Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931) on IMDb 7.7/10

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins. See more awards »


Complete credited cast:
Matahi ...
The Boy
Anne Chevalier ...
The Girl (as Reri)
Bill Bambridge ...
The Policeman (as Jean)
Hitu ...
The Old Warrior


In one island of Bora Bora lagoon, a young fisherman, Matahi, is in love with Reri. But she is chosen to be the holy maid and therefore becomes "tabu". They ran away from that tradition. Will they be happier and luckier in the more "civilized" society ? Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

island | pearl | love | lovers | debt | See more »


TV-PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

19 March 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tabu  »

Box Office


$150,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(R.C.A. Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Originally conceived as a co-venture with documentarian Robert J. Flaherty. As work on the project progressed, it became increasingly clear to Flaherty that F.W. Murnau did not adapt well to co-directing and that he was being squeezed off the film. A factor helping Murnau in this was that he was one of the chief financiers. See more »


Edited into Histoire(s) du cinéma: Seul le cinéma (1997) See more »


(1827-46) (uncredited)
Written by Frédéric Chopin
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User Reviews

Adventures In Paradise
8 January 2010 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

A teenage island native, played by a young man named Matahi, and his love interest, Reri (Anne Chevalier), live happily in a South Seas paradise, surrounded by lush tropical vegetation, waterfalls, and majestic mountains. He's a pearl fisherman. She's an unattached young beauty. Their lives are simple and reasonably carefree. A spirit of innocence prevails. But even amid such beautiful simplicity and natural wonders, sinister elements lurk in the background. And that's the film's main theme.

The story is simple and direct. It's both a love story and a visual documentary that will appeal to Westerners accustomed to a more tech lifestyle. Parts of the narrative are conveyed by means of the writings in a ship captain's log. The writing is displayed on the screen, for viewers to read. The film's tone varies from light and cheerful at the beginning to more somber as the plot moves along.

Shot in Tahiti and Bora Bora, the film has a cast made up entirely of non-professionals. The B&W lighting is good, given the early era.

The film is one of the last of the silent period. And I'm therefore reluctant to find fault with it. The native Pacific music is really beautiful, what there is of it. I could have wished for a lot more. By contrast, the imported symphonic score is loud, nondescript, and intrusive. I guess that would be the one thing I would have changed.

Even for viewers who don't care for silent films, "Tabu: A Story Of The South Seas" might be appreciated for its documentary style visuals. For viewers familiar with silent cinema, this is a must-watch film, Director F.W. Murnau's last.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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