IMDb > Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931)
Tabu: A Story of the South Seas
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F.W. Murnau (told by)
Robert J. Flaherty (told by)
View company contact information for Tabu: A Story of the South Seas on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
19 March 1931 (USA) See more »
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Won Oscar. Another 2 wins See more »
User Reviews:
Murnau's final film is a fitting reminder of his genius See more (21 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)
Matahi ... The Boy
Anne Chevalier ... The Girl (as Reri)
Bill Bambridge ... The Policeman (as Jean)
Hitu ... The Old Warrior
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ah Fong ... The Businessman (uncredited)
Jules ... The Captain (uncredited)

Directed by
F.W. Murnau 
Writing credits
F.W. Murnau (told by)

Robert J. Flaherty (told by) (as R.J. Flaherty)

Edgar G. Ulmer  uncredited

Produced by
David Flaherty .... associate producer (uncredited)
Robert J. Flaherty .... producer (uncredited)
F.W. Murnau .... producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
Violeta Dinescu (1995)
Hugo Riesenfeld (musical setting)
W. Franke Harling (uncredited)
Milan Roder (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Floyd Crosby (photographed by)
Film Editing by
Arthur A. Brooks (uncredited)
Production Management
Edgar G. Ulmer .... production manager (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Bill Bambridge .... assistant director
David Flaherty .... assistant director (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Floyd Crosby .... camera operator (uncredited)
Editorial Department
H.H. Caldwell .... supporting editor (uncredited)
Martha Dresback .... negative cutter (uncredited)
Katherine Hilliker .... supporting editor (uncredited)
Edgar G. Ulmer .... supervising editor (uncredited)
Music Department
Frank Strobel .... conductor (1995)

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Tabu" - USA (poster title)
See more »
86 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.20 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (R.C.A. Photophone System)
Argentina:13 | Germany:6 (DVD rating) | Netherlands:14 (re-rating) (1941) | Netherlands:AL (original rating) (1931) | Sweden:Btl | UK:PG (DVD) | USA:TV-PG (TV rating) | West Germany:12

Did You Know?

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.See more »
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.See more »
Movie Connections:
Symphony 'Má vlast'See more »


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20 out of 20 people found the following review useful.
Murnau's final film is a fitting reminder of his genius, 9 April 2003
Author: Robert Kinsler ( from Southern California

For discerning fans of classic filmmaking, the surviving work of director F.W. Murnau remains some of the most significant and stunning of the silent era. Filmed entirely in Tahiti, `Tabu' would prove to be Murnau's last film (he died in a tragic car accident on March 11, 1931, just weeks before the film's premiere) and most unusual - he actually collaborated with director Robert Flaherty (`Nanook of the North') in this tale of two doomed lovers that unintentionally transports `Romeo and Juliet' into the South Pacific. Unlike his landmark expressionist titles such as `Nosferatu' and `Faust,' Murnau's `Tabu' is set mostly outdoors and features dazzling images of beautiful young native men and women at home in their Polynesian paradise in the first part of the film, with haunting images used to chronicle tragedy and paradise lost in the second half of the 81 minute classic.

Although no members of the cast were professional actors, the performances by Matahi (as a young pearl fisherman) and Reri (as the `tabu' island girl) are moving. More than 70 years after its release, `Tabu' remains essential viewing, and UCLA's restoration of this classic has been a highlight of the schedule of new DVD releases in 2002. In fact, the film's luxurious black-and-white cinematography garnered cameraman Floyd Crosby an Oscar. DVD extras include audio commentary by UCLA Film Professor Janet Bergstrom; outtake footage; theatrical trailer; still gallery; short film titled `Reri in New York.'

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