A young man falls overboard and is saved by a beautiful Polynesian girl. They fall in love, but their idyll is smashed when the local volcano begins to erupt. The man discovers that the local custom is to sacrifice a young woman to the volcanic gods. They try to escape but realize that "east is east and west is west, and never the twain shall meet." Written by
I despair of non-romantics taking the time to denigrate with their reviews ultra-romantic films, such as this.
BIRD OF PARADISE is a masterwork - superbly photographed (the lighting, composition and mobility of the camera are astonishing), lushly scored (Max Steiner's score is the first ever to run from beginning to end of a talking film), and lyrically directed. Del Rio's performance is perfection - a native woman whose only future is to be sacrificed to Pele, the God of Volcanos, who finds true love with a white man who visits her island and chooses to stay.
For romantics, this is a classic tear-jerker and an exercise in sheer visual beauty. The underwater swimming scene between a nude Del Rio and a McCrea clad only in the thinnest of briefs is unique in cinema.
Perhaps the Academy's shut-out of this work is due to its coming on the heel of the semi-documentary Murnau TABU, the year before which explored similar themes. No reason however not to nominate it for Del Rio's performance, the cinematography and the score.
One of the most visually beautiful films ever made and a must-see for romantics.
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