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 ... See full summary »
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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
[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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South Seas dramas down through the decades have involved a lovely woman with one layer of scanty clothing, and a man who is chiefly attired in bronzed muscles. Both are Rousseauian children, taking rapturous joy in carnality and in their sun-light surroundings. Invariably they run afoul of the hungry island gods, rapacious white man, or combination of both. It's a genre done in John Ford's "Hurricane" and other movies with Dorothy Lamour; "Bird of Paradise" with Debra Paget; the various "Blue Lagoon" movies; up to the 1980's little seen "Beyond the Reef."
This one has one thing distinguishing itself from the others - the cast is all actually Polynesian, or partly so (sorry Dorothy). It does bring in the common troubles of indigenous peoples: wanting to escape their stifling tribal atmosphere, they have a hard time coping with the outside world's currency economy and alcoholic drink. The movie eschews the Hollywood ending. Anne Chevalier is a treat, and a climatic moment late in the movie is directed for maximum shock.
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