Inspired by true events. Princess Ka'iulani is the daughter of a Hawaiian princess and a Scottish businessman. As a teenager, she is sent to England to be educated. But after the death of her uncle King Kalakaua and the accession of her aunt Queen Liliu'okalani, Ka'iulani becomes the next heir to the throne. The possibility of U.S. annexation is looming and the rights of her people are threatened. Ka'iulani is torn between life in England with handsome young suitor Clive Davies or returning to her beloved Hawai'i. Written by
Her given first name, Victoria, was a tribute to the then reigning Queen regnant of Great Britain. In July 1843, Queen Victoria had helped to restore the sovereignty and independence of the Kingdom of Hawaii during the reign of King Kamehameha III. Just like Queen Victoria, whose given names were Alexandrina Victoria, but who chose not to use her given first name and to be called simply Victoria, Princess Ka'iulani chose not to use her given first name of Victoria, and to be called simply Ka'iulani. See more »
PRINCESS KA'IULANI feels like a made for TV movie, a film that will inform the viewer about a bit of history few know, but also a rather static and amateurish production - pretty to look at, embarrassing to hear. Marc Dorby directed this his first directorial outing based on his story written with the assistance of Robert Payne. The facts presented are apparently true and since few know the background history of Hawaii it is at least informative.
Without much historical background about the Islands before the Americans inserted themselves to feast on the beauty and agricultural goods of that paradise, the film begins with a conflict between the anti-Royalists lead by Thurston (Barry Pepper in muttonchops) and the Royal reign of King Kalalaua (Ocean Kaowili), Queen Liliu'okalan (Leo Anderson Akana). Princess Ka'iulani (Q'orianka Kilcher, a half Peruvian actress remembered for her role as Pocahontas in THE NEW WORLD with Colin Farrell and Christian Bale) is the niece who is in line for the throne, a royal personage who understands kindness in regards to the people of her nation (she is only half Hawaiian - her father is a Scotsman). To protect the princess she is sent to England where she gradually grows accustomed to British snobbery and overcomes it through her inner strength, living in the home of the Davies - Mr. Davies (Julian Glover, Alice Davies (Tazmin Merchant, from THE TUDORS) and Clive Davies (Shaun Evans). The family presents her to society, nurtures her, and the princess falls in love with Clive, who is juts ready to enter university, and they become engaged. Back home in Honolulu things disintegrate: Thurston gathers rebels to take over the Royal rule, alters the constitution to forbid voting by the natives, the King dies, and the Queen is under house arrest. Princess Ka'iulani travels to the United States to plead her case with President Cleveland, receives a grand reception and then returns home to Hawaii, raises her dignity to cope with Thurston and the anti-Royalists and with the assistance of Sanford B. Dole (Will Patton) she is able to alter the new constitution to allow voting rights to her people.
If that all sounds a bit short on story then the viewer can understand why so much time is spent with the princess, Julie and Clive skipping along the beach and finding other moments of diversion to fill the 90 minutes of the film. The cast is competent and delivers the piecemeal scraps of script given them well. In the end there jut isn't much story here that isn't fairly obvious from the first 15 minutes of the film. It is a good lesson about the US annexation of Hawaii and the tension between the native Hawaiians and the 'invaders'......
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