The intertwined lives of two kindred souls with ambition begins when Captain Whip Hoxworth discovers that Nyuk Tsin has been smuggled aboard as part of cargo on The Carthaginian, which he ...
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Franklin J. Schaffner
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The intertwined lives of two kindred souls with ambition begins when Captain Whip Hoxworth discovers that Nyuk Tsin has been smuggled aboard as part of cargo on The Carthaginian, which he captains, a cargo supposed to consist of only male Chinese workers bound for Hawaii. Nyuk Tsin was kidnapped from her Haaka village to be sold to a Honolulu brothel. She is spared when Mun Ki claims she is his wife, and Hoxworth goes along with his wife's suggestion that they can work in the Hoxworth household as domestic servants. Nyuk Tsin becomes known to all as Wu Chow's Auntie (Aunt of Five Continents) when her five sons are named after continents (with Mun Ki's wife in China regarded as their official mother). Whip founds an empire in pineapples, using Japanese laborers, after smuggling his first seed crop from French Guiana as Wu Chow's Auntie grows a family business in Honolulu around her sons. Written by
I'm sure that what attracted Charlton Heston to sign on for The Hawaiians was the fact he'd be working with director Tom Gries with whom he had done Will Penny and Number One. Will Penny was Heston's favorite film. The Hawaiians would mark the third and final joint project the two men worked on.
Heston plays the grandson of that New England sea captain Richard Harris from the film Hawaii and the James Michener book it is based on. He's every bit the hell raiser that grandfather was, but has an eye for business and does have a vision for Hawaii. Of course it's not the same vision as the native Hawaiians had or the same vision that Chinese and Japanese immigrants have. That in a nutshell is the history of Hawaii.
The rest of the white characters are descendants from the characters in the first film. The added component are the characters of Mako and Tina Chen who immigrate to Hawaii from China and found a small dynasty of their own. Their story and that of Heston and his family entwine over several decades.
One thing I will say about The Hawaiians that is most admirable. The Asian and Pacific Islander characters you see here are portrayed as three dimensional and with dignity. No fortune cookie stereotypes are to be found in The Hawaiians.
I've always been of the opinion that you cannot make a bad film about Hawaii because the scenery is so beautiful. The Hawaiians is no exception and the film did get an Oscar nomination for costume design.
Tina Chen does a remarkable job as the matriarchal head of her family after Mako dies of leprosy on the island of Molokai. In a patriarchal culture that was by no means an easy thing. Her performance is the best acting in The Hawaiians.
The Hawaiians has an Edna Ferber like sweep in its plot and its subject. It's also sticking close to the facts in terms of Hawaiian history, a very worthy film to see.
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