Princess Ka'iulani
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Princess Kaiulani (2009) More at IMDbPro »Princess Ka'iulani (original title)

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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

Princess Kaiulani is a biopic, written and directed by English film-maker Marc Forby with help from Robert Payne.

Victoria Ka'iulani Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kawkin I Lunalilo Cleghorn [1875-1899] (played by Q'orianka Kilcher) was one of the last heirs to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii, named as successor to Queen Liliuokalani (played by Leo Anderson Akana), Kaiulani's aunt. Kaiulani's mother Likelike was sister to Liliuokalani, who inherited the throne from their brother King Kalakaua (played by Ocean Kaowili) in 1891. Kalakaua, Liliuokalani, and Likelike were descendents of High Chief Kepookalani, first cousin of Kamehameha the Great [c.1758 1819] on the side of Kamehameha's mother Kekuiapoiwa. That's pretty heavy royalty in Hawaiian ancestry. Kaiulani's father was Archibald Cleghorn (played by Jimmy Yuill), a financier from Edinburgh, Scotland. A photo of Princess Kaiulani can be viewed here.

Two characters, the twins Mamane (Kamuela Kalilikane) and Kalehua (Kimo Kalilikane), speak only in Hawaiian. Kaiulani comments back, sometimes in Hawaiian and sometimes in English. Most times, English subtitles are provided.

An Ali'i is a member of the highest class of Hawaiian society, ranking even above the Kahunas. Only an Ali'i Nui supercedes an Ali'i, but the class distinction of Ali'i Nui can be claimed only when both parents are of that rank.

It's the 'June: Barcarolle' in G minor piece from Tchaikovsky's 'The Seasons', which consists of 12 short pieces for solo piano, each piece named for a different month of the year.

Following is a short description of Hawaiian history between the years of 1887 and 1897 (the years during which the movie is set). Opposition was growing between Hawaiian royalty and non-Hawaiian (mostly American) investors. Americans looking to protect their commercial interests were seeking to overthrow the monarchy and annex Hawaii to the United States. At the beginning of the movie, a group of armed anti-Royalists, led by Lorrin Thurston (played by Barry Pepper), are shown interrupting King Kalakaua's celebration in order to demand a new governance, election of a new cabinet, and dismissal of Premier Gibson. This led to what is known as The Bayonet Constitution, in which the King was forced to sign away most of his power under gunpoint (with bayonets attached) or be deposed. When Kalakaua died in 1891, while Kaiulani was still living in England, Queen Liliuokalani took the throne. Two years later (1893), the monarchy was overthrown. The following year (1894), the Republic of Hawaii was proclaimed. It was recognized by the United States government as a protectorate, and Sanford Dole (played by Will Patton) became President. In 1895, Liliuokalani was placed under house arrest until her pardon in 1896. Kaiulani didn't return to Hawaii until 1897. In 1898, Hawaii became an incorporated territory of the United States.

Dole asks Kaiulani to host a dinner for the three U.S. commissioners arriving to assist in drawing up new laws now that Hawaii has been proclaimed a U.S. territory. At first, her anger flares but, when Dole points out that they have only heard Thurston's side, she realizes that it would be in the best interest of her people if she would indeed play hostess. During the dinner, Kaiulani gives a speech about how the kanaka (the native people of Hawaii) are precluded from voting because only those who own land can vote. Thurston points out that Kaiulani is not a statesman and, therefore, cannot raise this issue to the commissioners, so Dole agrees to propose the revision to the annexation document. Thurston leaves the dinner in a huff. During a ceremony to crown Kaiulani by her people, her father shows her a letter assuring that the kanaka have now been given the right to vote. Kailuani notices Clive (Shaun Evans) in the crowd, and they proclaim their existing love for each other. Clive asks her to return with him to England, but Kaiulani refuses. Realizing that they both have obligations to their respective countries, they part way. In the final scene, she walks out into the shallow waves and tosses away her seashell collection that represented fond memories of her past and hopes for her future, a action indicating that, in her heart, her dreams and memories all died that day. In a voiceover, the narrator says, 'Hawaiians remember Princess Kaiulani as the hope she brought to her people. The flame of our great chiefess burns brightly in the soul of our nation.'

A written epilogue at the end of the movie reads: 'Princess Kaiulani died on March 6, 1899 at the age of 23, less than one year after Hawai'i was annexed by the United States. Many believe she died of a broken heart at the loss of her nation. In 1993, President Clinton signed the 'Apology Resolution' passed by Congress. The document offered an apology on the behalf of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai'i. To this day, the Hawaiians strive to perpetuate their culture and nation.' In actuality, Kaiulani is said to have died of inflammatory rheumatism.


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