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In his final film, F.W. Murnau presents the tale of two young lovers on the idyllic island of Bora Bora in the South Pacific. Their life is shattered when the old warrior declares the girl to be the Chosen Maid and it is forbidden for any man to even look upon her. Refusing to accept a life apart, they run off to another island, one that is decadent and westernized. The boy works as a pearl diver but not quite understanding the concept of money, is soon in debt. When the old warrior tracks them down they again plan to run away but in a desperate attempt to pay off his debts, the boy dives for pearls in shark-infested waters. The boy is successful but fate seems determined to keep the two lovers apart. Written by
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 film's chief financiers. See more »
[writing a goodbye letter]
I must go. Hitu is here and waits for me. You will die if I do not obey. I will go so that you may live. The tabu is upon us. I have been so happy with you far more than I deserved. The love you have given me, I will keep to the last beat of my heart. Across the great waters, I will come to you in your dreams when the moon spreads its path on the sea. Farewell.
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An Innocent and Tragic Love Story in the South Seas
Chapter 1 - Paradise: The youngsters Matahi and Reri are in love for each other. When Reri is chosen by the old warrior Hitu to be the god's maid, she must stay virgin and untouched, otherwise her lover and she should die. But Matahi abducts and escapes with her to an island ruled by the white man, were their gods would be harmless and powerless.
Chapter 2 - Lost Paradise: Matahi is an excellent diver, getting many pearls from the bottom of the ocean, but he does not know the meaning of money, promoting a feast to the villagers and signing the bills the smart Chinese businessman presents to him. Meanwhile Hitu chases them, and Matahi and Reri decide to buy a ticket to travel by ship to another place. However, the Chinese charges the bill and Matahi, without any money, goes to a forbidden sea with sharks trying to get a huge pearl to pay for his debts and escape with Reri. But she decides to leave the island with Hitu and spare Matahi's live. But Matahi swims after their boat, dying of exhaustion in the sea.
"Tabu: a Story of the South Seas" is an innocent and tragic love story. The movie practically does not have any professional actor or actress, and the cinematography is very impressive, considering the type of equipment available in 1931. The landscapes are wonderful, the underwater sequence is amazing and the love story ahead of time. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Tabu"
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