7.6/10
3,539
20 user 41 critic

Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931)

On the South Pacific island of Bora Bora, a young couple's love is threatened when the tribal chief declares the girl a sacred virgin.

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Writers:

(told by), (told by) (as R.J. Flaherty)
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins. See more awards »
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Cast

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

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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 March 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tabu  »

Box Office

Budget:

$150,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(R.C.A. Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Quotes

The Girl: [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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Connections

Edited into Spisok korabley (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Unique and beautiful.
3 June 1999 | by (Canberra, Australia) – See all my reviews

There has never been another film like "Tabu". This is a unique blending of ethnographic documentary and expressionist drama, from two directors who were masters of these forms.

The actors are real Polynesians and their ceremonies and rituals are faithfully captured, and interwoven with a tragic love story. The cinematography deservedly won an Oscar - it is truly beautiful. Murnau, away from his usual studio sets, manages to create the same sense of danger using natural light - especially moonlight - and real locations.

The performances are very strong - especially Chevalier as the girl, and the old man is as scary as Nosferatu as he haunts her dreams at night.

Sadly this was Murnau's last film - he died in a car crash just before the premiere. It is a little dramatically uneven, and certainly not the masterpiece that "Sunrise" is, but it is still very worthwhile.


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